Planning Commissioner Sturdivant Passes Away at 65

Monday, September 09 2013

Peter Sturdivant / Courtesy of Ryan Funeral Home

Last month, Peter Sturdivant passed away at the age of 65. Sturdivant was known in Unalaska for his service on the city planning commission and his work for a property management company.

But as KUCB’s Lauren Rosenthal reports, Sturdivant’s professionalism hid a taste for adventure.

Work was what brought Peter Sturdivant to Unalaska. He moved to town last October for a white-collar job at Strawberry Hill, LLC.

His coworker, David Huber, says that didn’t last long:

Huber: "At first he was sent out here to do a job as finding tenants, finding other people to lease spaces to. But after we couldn’t find somebody else and Peter got pushed into doing the boilers."

With almost no experience under his belt, Sturdivant became a handyman, responsible for maintaining a finicky system of waste oil boilers.

It was a far cry from his old job, in Chicago. Sturdivant had managed multimillion dollar construction projects and spent his spare time volunteering.

But his brother, Mike Sturdivant, says Peter enjoyed a good challenge -- and he didn’t mind uncertainty.

When Peter finished college in the Midwest in the 1970s, he collected his diploma:

Mike Sturdivant: "And then he ventured out. With another friend after they graduated from college, they rode bikes to California. They only made it as far as Denver and their bikes broke down."

Eventually, Sturdivant made it to California. He worked as a computer programmer for a while. Then he got a license to pilot boats, and took a job sailing yachts through the Panama Canal for a Miami dealership.

He lived in Panama for a few years before returning to the Midwest. He settled in Chicago and got his start in construction, overseeing work on highway overpasses and football stadiums. When the recession hit, those jobs dried up.

He got a tip about the position in Unalaska, with Strawberry Hill, from an acquaintance. His brother says it wasn’t long before Sturdivant was headed west:

Mike Sturdivant: "He left all his furniture in a storage unit in Bolingbrook, Illinois, where he lived. And the only thing he brought with him with his personal clothing and his pots and pans. He was a gourmet cooker -- a chef, if you want to call it that."

And he kept it up in Unalaska. Sturdivant’s coworker, David Huber, says he gave the chef plenty of fresh-caught fish to work with.

Huber: "Catch a couple pinks out here, gave them to him, he fried it up. Also dollies –- he fried those up, brought ‘em down. He was always a very great cook."

In his spare time, Sturdivant kept up with his passions for construction and development, too. That’s why he joined the planning commission. Planning director Erin Reinders says Sturdivant took his seat on the commission very seriously:

Reinders: "He would always come with his list of questions and go down that list. And he was always looking for more information and digging deeper. And he would do his own research. He was always looking for that feedback, and trying to dig in more."

It was for a reason. Sturdivant planned to make Unalaska home for at least a few more years, before heading off to tackle his next adventure.

Sturdivant passed away in his sleep on August 22. He’s survived by his brother and four nieces and nephews. A memorial service will be held in his hometown of De Pere, Wisconsin, on Friday.

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