Peter James McCue (CWO2 USCG Ret. – F&S) passed away in Tacoma WA on St. Patrick’s Day, 17 March 2021, from complications of a heart infection. He was 82 years old.
Tuell-McKee Funeral Home is handling arrangements. An open-house viewing will be held at Tuell-McKee (2215 Sixth Avenue, Tacoma) on Thursday, April 1st, from 4pm to 8pm. Pete will be laid to rest at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent WA.
Memorial donations may be made to the Future National Coast Guard Museum, scheduled to open in New London CT in 2024.
Born on 30 June 1938, he was known as “Jim” to family and friends in South Chicago and, later in life, as “Pete” to his Coast Guard and other friends. Jim was proud of his Irish/Scottish and Polish heritages. His father’s family (Irish descendants who had lived in Scotland for about three generations) immigrated to the U.S. in 1919 from Scotland. His maternal grandparents immigrated from Poland, probably between 1880 and 1890.
Jim’s parents, Peter McCue (III) and Selma Starzyk, married in 1933. They had 3 daughters: Mary June, Sally Ann, and Cecilia. Then, in 1938, Jim was born – the first son. Robert Edward, the second son, was born in 1942 but would only live for 19 days. His older siblings would never forget Robert and he was in Jim’s memory and heart his whole life. The McCue siblings welcomed another brother, Marty, in 1945 but would lose him to leukemia in 1965.
When Jim was 12 years old his father passed away. Jim became the man of the house, handling the heavy chores. His mother was concerned about any bad influences in South Chicago, so Jim attended Catholic boarding school (St. Bede Academy in Peru, IL).
After graduating high school, at the age of 17, Jim wanted to join the Coast Guard. His mother signed the waiver allowing him to join before his 18th birthday. With her signature, he went forward as “Pete” to begin a 22-year journey with the Coast Guard.
Pete enlisted on 10 January 1956 and his first assignment was getting through boot camp at Cape May NJ. Pete graduated as a Cutterman with the specialty of Storekeeper. His early assignments included the USCGC Mariposa (WLB-397), a buoy tender, and duty at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT. On shore-leave in 1958, he married an Italian girl (Lorena Zuar) he had met at a dance at the USO in New York City. Their first 3 children were born in New London.
Other assignments would take the family to Olmstead Falls OH (a 4th child born there), Milwaukee WI, and Supply Center Brooklyn NY (where their 5th child was born).
In 1971 Pete was promoted to Chief Petty Officer and assigned to Honolulu to join the crew that was commissioning a brand-new cutter, the Jarvis (WHEC-725). His service on the Jarvis was the source of some of Pete’s fondest and proudest memories of his time in the Coast Guard.
While still stationed in the 14th Coast Guard District in Honolulu, Pete was promoted to Chief Warrant Officer. He was assigned to the District Headquarters and then later transferred to the Jarvis’ sister-ship, the Mellon (WHEC-717). Pete loved going to sea (and his kids started to see it as time off for them)!
Whether stationed on a cutter or in the district office, Pete always played on the crew’s or unit’s slow-pitch softball team. He was an amazing pitcher who could put a wicked spin on the ball with a high arc and have it drop right over the plate. (It was a skill he was able to pass on to a very talented youth pitcher on his daughter’s high school softball team).
It was 1975 when Pete was transferred to the 13th Coast Guard District in Seattle WA. No sea duty this time. He would have an opportunity in 1977 to accept a promotion from CWO2 to CWO3 but it meant reenlistment of another two years. Pete decided to retire and received an honorable discharge on 31 August 1977.
For pictures, stories, and more details about Pete’s Coast Guard career, visit his profile on Coast Guard: Together We Served.
Transitioning to civilian life was not as fast as he probably wanted it to be. Pete got a job with a supply company but learned that military discipline and commands did not really fly with minimum-wage teens who came and went as they pleased.
The oldest of his kids were high school age when he retired and attended Ingraham High School in North Seattle. Pete had more time to be involved so he founded a school Color Guard, complete with the flags twirling, guns spinning, and, of course, the very respectful and militaristic presentation of the colors. It was a successful program that he led for a few years.
Pete took advantage of the benefits of the G.I. Bill and signed up for classes at North Seattle Community College. He was all for “fun college” activities and is purported to have put food dye in the school fountain to turn it green on St. Patrick’s Day (his favorite holiday).
What could best be described as “Part 2” of Pete’s life story began when he took a part-time job driving a school bus. It seemed that being in the transportation industry resonated with Pete and it was not too long before he would be working in management. His first marriage ended in 1986. He pulled up roots and accepted a management position with a bus company that took him to Rancho Cucamonga CA.
After a few years, Pete returned to Washington State and bought a home in Puyallup where he had 2 pygmy goats in the backyard. He worked for Mayflower, which eventually became Laidlaw, and they won the school bus contract for the City of Tacoma. It was a huge project. Pete dove in with everything he had, finding the lot, getting the buses, setting the routes, and hiring drivers who would become close and dear friends. He never did anything halfway … all or nothing at all!
Pete was Laidlaw’s Senior Operations Manager. He managed seven lots, including Tacoma, Spokane, Nine Mile, Battle Ground, Adna, Tenino, and Rochester, plus charter bus operations. One of his favorite charter projects was providing bus transportation for the participants in the St. Pat’s Day Run in Seattle (again, St. Patrick’s Day)!
In 1998 Pete accomplished another dream – he purchased a lot in the Maggie Lake Community in Tahuya WA. He designed it as a family getaway – grading the land, putting in the utilities, and placing a mobile home on the property. He loved that land as much as he loved the memories that were created there, hosting an annual 4th of July campout for extended family and friends.
In the year 2000, he said, “I do” and married Gloria Anderson, who had joined his Mayflower team in 1992 and continued when it became Laidlaw. (She had been hired as a driver but did not have a commercial license, so she became Pete’s secretary.) Pete and Gloria had a “yours, mine, ours” approach to their families which, combined, totaled 7 kids with 7 spouses, 14 grandkids, and 3 great-grandkids. Birthdays and holidays for all were remembered with a card and (for the big days) a gift. (Of course, Pete did the directing and Gloria did the work!)
Pete retired from Laidlaw in 2004. His health began to deteriorate not too long after with his first heart attack in the Fall of 2004. He recovered and got much better with good eating habits and giving up cigarettes. In 2017 he suffered more heart attacks and a possible stroke. Gloria helped him work his way back to health and he was doing as well as could be expected … still had the same sense of humor mixed with stubbornness. Pete could sit with his son-in-law and tell stories from his CG days and able to recall the details of names, dates, places, and times.
In October of 2020, Pete received a flu shot that literally knocked him off his feet. He was sick from it into December and, eventually, did not have the strength to get himself up out of a chair. He was taken to the hospital. Pete seemed to be on the mend and, in January, was transferred to a nursing home for recovery. He passed away there late in the evening on St. Patrick’s Day.
Pete was preceded in death by his parents Peter McCue (III) and Selma Starzyk; first wife Lorena McCue; sister Cecelia Weeks; brothers Robert Edward and Martin Thomas; brothers-in-law Thomas Balle and Pete Holevis; and great-nephew Keegan Balle.
There are many people whom Pete loved and who loved him in return (whether they knew him as Jim or Pete). It’s not possible to name everyone but, for the sake of genealogy searches in the future, we name as many as possible:
Pete is survived by his loving wife, Gloria (Anderson); sisters, Sally Ann Balle and Mary June Holevis. He is also survived by all his and Gloria’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren:
Pete’s children and their spouses: Jennine and Bruce Purrington; Linda and Craig Rantz; Peter (V) and Anna McCue; Lori and Ron Asel; and, Patrick and Stacey McCue. Gloria’s children and their spouses: Michael and Jené Webster; and, Michelle and Steven Moore.
The grandchildren and spouses: Ariana Purrington; Rachel McCue; Amy and Zach Jones; Peter (VI) and Meaghan McCue; Shane and Steph Asel; Dominic Asel; Gemma Asel; Isabel Asel; Connor McCue; Lindsey and Avinoam Slotnick; Vyvian and Corey Luffy; Breck Webster-Shepherd; Britney Jo Shepherd; and, Brentin Moore.
The great-grandchildren: Tyson Smith, Sadie Jones, and Lucy McCue.
Also surviving Pete and much-loved by him, even if not individually named here, are many cousins, nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews, and Gloria’s siblings, in-laws, and her large, loving, extended family who welcomed Pete into their family.
Pete would also want to acknowledge the shipmates, bus drivers, teammates, neighbors, and friends who served, worked, shared, and enjoyed this journey with him over the past 82 years.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Thanks and praise, for our days,
‘Neath the sun, ‘Neath the stars, ‘Neath the sky,
As we go, this we know, God is nigh.