He grew up on the infamous southwest side of Chicago whose father used to run errands for Al Capone.
He finished fights that his over zealous friends used to start.
He unknowingly ate his own pet rabbit after his mom used it for a Ragú di Coniglio one night.
He set rushing records as a high school tailback.
He fixed up and raced hot rods and muscle cars.
He flew into some of the most dangerous hot zones for the Navy in Vietnam.
He surfed alongside Duke Kahanamoku in Honolulu when he worked on Waikiki Beach.
He took fish hooks, shotgun pellets, shovels, and probably more, to the head throughout his life.
He nearly missed his own wedding thanks to his father’s impromptu, night-before bachelor party.
He nearly died on a fishing trip after being submerged in the dangerously cold water of the Snake River.
He ran and sold a successful business that was a major piece in the supply chain for NASA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, and more.
He bought, improved and sold numerous commercial, industrial and residential real estate projects.
These are a few of the pieces that make up just the first part of the Legend of Pete.
Peter La Barbera, also known as…
- Big Pete
- The Bear
- Coach Pete
- Uncle Pete
The man of many names intersecting the numerous chapters of the life he lived and the countless people he touched.
This man was my dad. This man was my hero.
The Legend of Pete that I have firsthand knowledge of is much different, and, in my opinion, even better than the legend prior.
He had the foresight to move to and start a family in what would become one of Southern California’s most desired neighborhoods.
He showed his three kids, my older sister, myself and my younger brother, what a happy, healthy marriage looked like.
He let his actions speak for the kind of man he was as he showed up consistently for us and other people.
He was firm, confident, and assertive so everyone always knew where he stood.
He was honest, even in times when the truth might’ve been difficult.
He had strong morals and values and made sure that those trickled down to his kids and grandkids.
He was a hard-working, accomplished entrepreneur who realized success while upholding his humble, modest nature.
He spared no expense when it involved delighting, surprising, motivating, or driving someone else.
He was overly generous with his time, his wisdom, and his money.
He was proud of what he built, who he raised, and how he helped others.
He firmly believed in and prioritized three main things above all else: God, Family, and Friends.
He was completely and utterly selfless.
He was truly one-of-a-kind.
Peter La Barbera, my dad, and many things to many people, moved on from this world on July 19, 2020, at 73 years old.
Many people have said that “we lost him”, but he was never any one person’s to lose. I’m convinced that his purpose on this Earth was to positively affect as many people as possible. And, as it was with seemingly everything else in his life, he succeeded.
Some may think that 73 years of life is a blessing. However, to know that even one more year could’ve possibly put my dad in someone else’s life when they might have needed him most will always be hard to accept.
The world needs more Pete’s, but it only had one. God must have needed him more up there then he did down here.
I will never know a better man.
I will always strive to be the husband, father, brother, uncle, boss, mentor, friend, confidant, and superhero that was my dad.
He will never be forgotten. He will never be matched.
This is not the end of my dad’s legacy. It already lives on in each person that was lucky enough to know him.
And it will live on for many more lifetimes.
This is The Legend of Pete; a legend that will never die.
To be continued…