Peter Vensus Surrette took his last breath on Sunday, October 17, 2021, with the love of his life Valerie and his son Zeffrey by his side. He was born on July 14, 1948 and was 73 years old. He was preceded in death by his mother Clara Raxter Grant, his father Perry Lewis Surrette and his oldest brother Lewis “Sonny” Surrette.
A Transylvania County native, Peter was proud of his southern Appalachian roots. He loved seeing mist rise on the Blue Ridge Mountains and was happiest when he could roam the woods with his dogs. He grew up in Pisgah Forest and was enthralled by natures beauty and the wildlife that flourishes here. He was named for his grandfather V. B. McGaha who served as the youngest sheriff in the county from 1892 to 1900. His ancestors on both sides of his family are documented as being among the founding families of Transylvania County.
Peter graduated from Brevard High School in 1966. He then attended radio and broadcasting school in Atlanta, Georgia. He enlisted in the military and served his county honorably in the Army Signal Corps as a Specialist E-5. He was stationed at an undisclosed location due to secrecy and work being conducted there at that time. Peter felt it was imperative to learn German so that he could interact and talk with the local townsfolk in the area. While there, he took the opportunity to travel and explore different European countries and cultures. He also taught himself Spanish which he considered a significant language.
Peter also did a tour in Viet Nam defending our country’s democracy during the war. His experiences in southeast Asia had a profound effect on him spiritually, emotionally, and morally. A Viet Nam veteran, he found belonging to the Hendersonville Vet’s Support Group provided him the camaraderie and understanding needed for those challenged with PTSD. His time overseas instilled his lifelong interest in alternative religions, teachings, and philosophies. Through his studies, Peter realized that there are more similarities than differences among people, no matter you upbringing or what your beliefs are.
Upon his return from the war, Peter enrolled at Western Carolina University. It was there that he met his one true love who was to become his future wife. Peter and Valerie’s relationship would go through numerous changes and evolve over time. Their friendship remained intact however, even when they were separated by distance and the passing years. Finally on April 2, 1988 they expressed their commitment to one another in front of family and friends and were united in marriage at the old Silvermont Mansion in Brevard. They were together for over thirty-three years.
Peter was unconventional in his thinking. His curiosity and enthusiasm led him to build one of the first underground houses in the county. Later he built an earth-bermed home for his family. He enjoyed tinkering with electronics in his shop and was always willing to rewire antique lamps for his wife. An avid licensed Ham Operator, he spent his spare time on his radio communicating with other Hams. He was intrigued about the possibility of what exists beyond our universe. He worked at the Olin paper mill (Ecusta) until its closure. Following his retirement, he pursued his education acquiring an Associates Degree at Blue Ridge Community College.
Peter loved his family unconditionally. He was an imaginative, caring, warm hearted man who could be quite funny and a real tease at times. He was so proud of his son Zeff and would brag about his accomplishments. He relished the father and son times they spent together. Peter also delighted in surprising his wife with wildflowers and love notes. He was a sweet, thoughtful husband. He was Valerie’s best friend and soul mate.
His survivors include his loving wife Valerie Surrette; their son Zeffrey Childress of Hendersonville, NC; his sister Phylis Blackburn (Ed) of Pisgah Forest; his brother Don Surrette (Norma) of Pisgah Forest; his brother-in-law Carl Thames (Sarah) of Oceanside, CA; his brother-in-law John Thames (Patsy) of Murrieta, CA; his adventurous nephew Jayme Thames (Dani) of Salt Lake City, UT; his tech nephew Alan Surrette (Dee) of Garner, NC; his fishing nephew Kalami Thames of Palm Springs, CA; his “favorite” niece Lynn Harron (Brian) of Cedar Mountain, NC; his “favorite” niece Susie Hampton of Penrose, NC; his “favorite” niece Christine Surrette of Leicester, NC; and all of his extended family members who knew him and loved their “Uncle Pete”.
A remembrance service to celebrate Peter’s life will take place at Davidson River Cemetery in Pisgah Forest on Saturday, November 13, 2021 at 2:00 pm. Funeral Honors will be provided by the North Carolina National Guard and the Transylvania County Honor Guard.
To honor Peter’s memory, please be kind to one another and tell someone you care about that you love them.
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