Terry Petesch once showed up for a party thinking it was “Meatloaf Monday.” When he realized it was a surprise party thrown in his honor, he swore he had a prior commitment. He stayed just long enough to blow out his candles, then left, according to friend Beaner Chandler.
The other party guests had a wonderful time celebrating, even though the guest of honor wasn’t technically there.
On Sunday, Jan. 6, the Longboat Key Center for the Arts, a Division of Ringling College of Art and Design, filled up for a celebration titled “A Tribute to Terry: Celebrating the Life and Friendship of Terry Petesch.”
The celebration of life for Petesch, who owned Terry’s Framing Gallery & Art Supplies in the Centre Shops, was similar to the “Meatloaf Monday”-turned-surprise party in at least one respect:
The man who brought the group together wasn’t there.
But pictures of and stories about Petesch, 62, who died Nov. 27, filled the room as the community paid tribute to him.
Many who spoke drank Petesch’s beverage of choice — Miller High Life — in his honor.
Petesch’s friend, Kip O’Neill, described him as someone who had not only mastered the art of framing, but also the art of friendship. He attended the weddings of every friend, whether the event took place in Italy or the Moose Lodge.
After they became friends, he began storing a six-pack of Miller High Life in O’Neill’s refrigerator, along with a glass that had a giant “T.” He would only drink from it after checking to ensure it was perfectly clean, according to O’Neill.
Several spoke about Petesch’s relationship with his cherished godsons: twins Clay and Cole Sidner and David Radtke, who also spoke.
“Terry was my place to hide, my sanctuary,” Radtke said. “Really, he was my place to see where to channel and go in life. He was my best friend.”
At the end of the tribute, O’Neill invited the crowd to “Get up and be merry. In fact, let’s just be Terry.”
Then, the crowd filed out to enjoy food and drinks as they shared their many memories of Petesch.