William Bruce Peterson

william peterson

May 2, 1938 ~ March 3, 2024

Born in: Yancey County, NC
Resided in: Asheville, NC

William Bruce Peterson passed away peacefully at his home with family by his side on Sunday, March 3, 2024, at the age of 85.

Bruce was born on May 2, 1938, in Yancey County. His family moved to Buncombe County, and he attended elementary school at Claxton and William Randolph, David Millard Junior High, and Lee H. Edwards High (later merging with Stephens-Lee to form Asheville High). A lifelong athlete, while at Lee Edwards he played football, basketball, baseball, track and tennis. Bruce was proud to serve his country as a member of the United States Army, stationed in Germany. Bruce then went to Western Carolina University where he earned a scholarship and 11 varsity letters in football, basketball and tennis. His 1963 Catamount basketball team played in the NAIA National Championship game; and he was the number one singles player on the 1963 tennis team. During his Senior year, 1963, he began his coaching career by coaching the WCU tennis team as a player-coach.

After graduating from WCU he started coaching and teaching at Cane River High School in Burnsville where he coached the football and basketball teams. Bruce then returned to his alma mater, Lee H. Edwards High where he was an assistant football and junior varsity basketball coach and teacher. After a brief period out of the educational and coaching arena, Bruce returned to Asheville High where he spent 11 years as the football coach. During this 11-year period his teams made the NC State playoffs seven times. He was honored to be selected as the East-West All-Star and Shrine Bowl Games coach as well as the North Carolina High School Coach of the Year twice. He has been elected to the North Carolina High School Athletics Association Hall of Fame. Bruce accepted the role of Principal at Enka High School and remained in that position for 11 years. He was recognized as the Buncombe County Principal of the Year and received the award from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association recognizing the principal who contributed the most to high school athletics.

Bruce married Carol Weir on March 24, 1990, and together they worked to benefit Buncombe County and North Carolina through community, political and family involvement. Bruce was the Former Chair of the Buncombe County Beef Cattle Association, and a member of the Board of Directors of WNC Communities Association. Bruce was a proud recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine from Governor Roy Cooper. Bruce and Carol were active, engaged members of Central United Methodist Church. He was the Chairman of the Buncombe Democratic Party, the Director of the 11th Congressional District Office for Congressman Heath Shuler, was a founding member of the Asheville Buncombe Sports Commission, served on the UNC-A Board of Trustees, and worked diligently with dedication and pleasure with the Folk Heritage Committee. Bruce and Carol continued Carol’s family’s square-dancing tradition and have helped preserve this mountain tradition for generations to come. They have also been fixtures at the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival as well as the Shindig On The Green; and, while Bruce will not be seen sitting up front at Shindigs, he will be there with the crowd, enjoying the dancing and music “Along about sundown”.

Bruce is survived by his wife, Carol Weir Peterson; Bruce’s son, Bruce Peterson, Jr. and wife Cindy; their children, Ashley, Amber and husband Sascha, Trey, his wife Deb and son TJ, Seth, Hannah, her husband Anthony and children Holly and Jayce, Hailey, Heather, Hunter, Sydney and Tyler; Bruce’s sister June Peterson Benson and children Angela McFarland and Brian Benson; and his nephew Steven Weir Sizemore and his wife Jill Hoyle Sizemore, their children Marshall, Meredith, Hannah and her husband Henry Marshall and their children Harper Ann and Henry.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in Bruce’s memory to the Folk Heritage Committee at folkheritage.org.

Funeral services will be held at Central United Methodist Church on Saturday, March 9, 2024 at 11:00 a.m.

Groce Funeral Home on Patton Avenue is assisting the family.


Memorial Service: March 9, 2024 11:00 am

Central United Methodist Church
27 Church Street
Asheville, NC 28801


Funeral Home Assisting The Family:

Groce Funeral Home - Patton Ave.
1401 Patton Ave.
Asheville, NC 28806


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Memories Timeline


  1. I am very proud to have played football under Coach Peterson’s leadership. What an amazing role model!

    • Bruce was the epitome of a high sc a special place in my heart for Bruce for Brucehool football coach I remember him for her close friendship and all the times that we shared Good times and Asheville High School.There will always be in my heart for Bruce
      Blessings upon Carol and the family in these very hard times but when I think of Bruce I think of all the people that he had an influence on their lives. Bruce certainly had an influence on my life and he’ll always be remembered for we have entered the room of remembrance from Bruce Peterson!!

  2. Oh my. The most precious memories. Coach Pete played a huge part in my high school years. The day before I left for college I went down and helped him line the football field and we talked. About everything. I told him I didn’t want to go and he told me I couldn’t stay….. there was something out there for me and I had to go find it. I will miss his knowledge and kind ways. Love to the family.

  3. ‘Coach Pete’ as he was affectionately called by student athletes and non student athletes alike. Coach Pete built a symbol of success for all a heroic programs at Asheville High School. May his legacy live on. Rest in Peace.

  4. Praying Out Classmate (OF ASHEVILLE HIGH SCHOOL) And His Family.

  5. I was so saddened to learn of my good friend’s death. What an awesome personality! And what an awesome impact Bruce has had on so many in so many walks of life.
    We at WNC Communities were so blessed he chose to serve on our board and especially gave so much to the agriculture community. His leadership of livestock farmers led to the reopening of the livestock market in Canton that has made a huge economic impact to farm income in the mountain region.
    Bruce’s contribution (and that of Carol) has made life better for all of us. Bruce will be sorely missed.

  6. Carol,
    I’m so sorry for your loss, and empathize what you are going through. If you need anything, please let me know, prayers be with you at all times and always 🙏😇

  7. Sending my deepest condolences to you and your family. I remember Coach Peterson from Asheville High School. He was always good to me and always smiling. Take your rest Coach Pete, you will always be remembered and loved.
    Cassandra Howell

  8. Glad to have known Bruce through the years. He always made feel comfortable and made me laugh. I am the Godfather of his grandchildren all of whom miss him and are deeply saddened. My prayers are also with his wife Carol Peterson.

  9. What an awesome man!! Thinking lots about you Carol-sending love and prayers for the coming difficult days.

  10. Carol, I can’t tell you how sorry I am. If Paul knew, he would also feel the same. We had such great times being a part of your Smooth Dancers. He will be missed by many.

  11. Dear Family, I am praying for and with you all as you go through these days and times.

  12. Dear Family, I am praying for and with you all as you go through these days and times.

  13. Ms. Peterson, I am so sorry to hear of your loss of your husband. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  14. Carol, Carl and I are saddened to hear of Bruce’s passing. Our prayers are with you at this time.
    Much love,
    Kathy and Carl Conley

  15. Carol, Carl and I are saddened to hear of Bruce’s passing. Our prayers are with you at this time.
    Much love

  16. My family and I offer our heartfelt condolences to you and your family. It was an honor for me to have played under Coach’s guidance. Despite winning the Western 4A Conference Championship in my junior and senior years, and going to the playoffs every year, Coach taught us valuable lessons about winning in life. Being mentored and loved by coach has significantly impacted my life. Aside my mother, no one else influenced my life as much as coach did. He never hesitated to express his love, regardless of the color of your skin. Coach taught his players to be like brothers and love one another for life.

    Joe and Janet Humphries

  17. You made 10th grade Biology fun and difficult. But with your mentorship you helped make a student- athlete out of a young and dumb goof off. Thanks Coach for caring. It changed a lot in me at a very formative time. RIP

  18. Thanks for the many memories, you helped me as I worked with different students in many different programs, in the school system

  19. Love and hugs to you Carol and family. Bruce will be missed by many. You both have played a huge part in my life.

    • My prayers go to Carol and family. I had the privilege of working with Bruce for 16 years at AHS. Bruce was always smiling, always upbeat and most of all, caring .

  20. Carol and family,
    Bless your hearts. May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ rule your hearts during this difficult time. Heaven is a real place! You will see him again.
    Bruce was such an amazing man! Truly cared about his fellow man, an inspiration! Loved that big smile. My prayers are with you and your family.
    Sincere condolences.

  21. We remained friends throughout our careers- a real benefit for me and my son Charles. You are remembered well.

  22. So thankful to have known Bruce. I am very appreciative of all he did and his heart for students. May the Lord comfort and encourage your hearts during this time. God bless you. 🙏

  23. Coach Pete was a tremendous Coach, Mentor, and a Great Man. I’ll always treasure the years my teammates and I played football under Coach Pete and his assistant coaches’ leadership. Coach Pete will always be remembered for all the life’s he touched and influenced in such a positive manner!

    Lifting up prayers to Carol, Bruce Jr. and the entire Peterson & Weir families! RIP Coach Pete!

  24. I had the privilege of working with Bruce Peterson and was always impressed with his gift to motivate people to be and to do their best. He himself was a great athlete but his success came from never wanting the spotlight to be on himself but others. He was a special person and that was evidenced by the many friends he had. I am thankful we crossed paths and my life was enriched by knowing him. My condolences and prayers to his family as they start a new journey without him. R.I.P. my friend until we meet again!

  25. I had the privilege of working with Bruce Peterson and was always impressed with his gift to motivate people to be and to do their best. He himself was a great athlete but his success came from never wanting the spotlight to be on himself but others. He was a special person and that was evidenced by the many friends he had. I am thankful we crossed paths and my life was enriched by knowing him. My condolences and prayers to his family as they start a new journey without him. R.I.P. my friend until we meet again!

  26. Carol, you will be in my thoughts and prayers in the days, weeks and months ahead; you and Bruce were always favorites for Phil.

    Judy Jones

  27. Such a good friend and College classmate I will sorely miss. Carol my thoughts and prayers are with you.

  28. A Great Man who inspired others by his full life, a life-well-lived.
    Our deepest sympathies to Carol and all who knew and loved Bruce.
    Sharon and Scott Conner

  29. A Great Man who inspired others by his full life, a life-well-lived.
    Our deepest sympathies to Carol and all who knew and loved Bruce.
    Sharon and Scott Conner

  30. I have fond memories of Bruce – often while covering local politics and events – the mountain community lost a good guy. My love to the family ♥️

  31. Coach Peterson went to Western with my dad and throughout my HS years he checked on me frequently and was always there if I needed someone to talk to. He’s a great man and I enjoyed the time I got to spend with him, I know his family and friends will miss his strength, honor and humor. He and Coach Hammond were role models for me growing up. Until we all meet again gentlemen.

  32. I was saddened to hear about Bruce’s passing. We developed a friendship over the last number of years through the Folk Heritage Committee events. I knew of his legendary coaching history, and I knew guys who played high school football for him who always mentioned his name in reverence. Bruce and I chatted numerous times about the 60’s era of sports and he rekindled many memories of yesteryear. I truly will miss seeing Bruce at the Shindig, the Mountain Dance & Folk Festival and other area events. His legacy in sports is only surpassed by his and Carol’s effort to improve our community through their unselfish volunteering. My sincere condolences to Carol and the family during this difficult time.

  33. Carol
    We have lost another fine gentleman in Asheville. I worked in his office while in high school. He was a great coach and educator. Sympathy to your large family in this loss

  34. Wir wünschen der ganzen Familie, viel Kraft in dieser schweren Zeit
    Detlef und Christel aus

    • Bruce was the best principal I ever had at Enka High School and we had a lot of very great principals at the school during my 40 years of teaching at EHS. I liked all of the principals at EHS, but Bruce was a great influence on my life in many other ways such as basketball, college choices, politics and life in general. Whenever I had a question about anything I could always depend on Bruce’s answers.

  35. Carol and Family,
    So sorry for your loss. Bruce was a kind, caring and thoughtful man. We will miss his smile and friendly laugh. The loss of a true gentleman when we need more of them. Our prayers for your family.
    Bill and Wanda White

  36. Jonathan and NaTosha Crooks : God truly blessed me to know Bruce Peterson Sr. Coach, Friend, Family and Mentor .May the peace of God through Jesus Christ led by the Holy Ghost embrace you at this time Carol Wier Peterson and Bruce Peterson Jr.

  37. Condolences to the entire Peterson family. If a person’s legacy is, in part, defined by the family he’s left behind, then Coach Peterson can be very proud.
    A fine family that I’m sure will surely miss their patriarch.

  38. Praying for you and your family during this time. Coach Peterson was always a great man for me to talk to as I began my coaching career. It is a privilege and honor to be following in his footsteps here at Asheville.

  39. Carol and family, I am so very sorry for the loss of your beloved Bruce. Over the years I came to learn of his great character, his ability to help others, his loyalty and his kindness. He will definitely leave a void and many lives. Carol, just know my heart, thoughts and prayers are with you and I am always here if you need me.

  40. Dear Carol and Family, I was saddened to hear about Bruce’s death. He was a lot of things to many people and his contributions to our community were tremendous. My first political reception was hosted by Carol. They were strong supporters of mine during my 16 years in county politics as I became a strong supporter of hers. Due to health issues I am experiencing I won’t be able to attend his service. Sincerely Tom Sobol

  41. Coach Pete gave me my first job coming out of WCU in 1985 at the old WNC Sporting Goods. I remember the hard fought battles between Tuscola and his Cougars in 1979 and 1980 but he never held that against me. I guess being fellow Catamounts won out. My condolences to Bruce Jr. and all the Peterson family and friends.

  42. Dear Carol and Family,
    We are thinking about you. We were sad to hear about Bruce’s death. Both of us have always held him in high regard. He led an exemplary life as an outstanding educator. As a coach and principal, he provided a positive example for many young people. I am grateful to have worked with him in Buncombe County Schools and to have observed his many contributions to students, parents and faculty of Enka High school. And, his involvement in all aspects of his community and beyond leave an indelible legacy.

  43. Carol and Peterson family, our thoughts and prayers are with you all for strength comfort and peace.

  44. Bruce Jr., Carol and family,

    Wonderful memories and sincere condolences are foremost in my mind as I try to process this information. Such a great man in such an humble embodiment with the athleticism close to a Jim Thorpe or some fantastic three-sport wonder kid who never flaunted his ability or talent. Turns out he was even more accomplished in many other venues other than athletics. In all his accomplishments in the world of athletics, on and off the field he was even a better man.

    The world will miss him as I’m sure your family will. I too miss him and he shall remain in my memories in many, many ways.

  45. Carol, June and Bruce

    I am so sorry to hear of Bruce’s passing. I am sorry that I cannot attend his funeral but my thoughts will be with all of you. I will always have fond memories of being a part of his days at Western Carolina and his coaching at Asheville High School. He was always a class act. Again my thoughts are with all of you in your time of loss.

  46. Bruce and I played basketball together at David Miller Jr High and Lee Edwards High School where we won state Championships at each school. He was not only a teammate but a good friend to me and others on the team. I can understand how and why he was successful as a teacher, coach and leader in the school system. I was not surprised that he was active in his church as he lived those principles as a student. My only regret was that we did not continue our friendship after school as I moved away from Asheville. He will be missed.

  47. Dear Carol, I am so glad that we had the great conservation on the phone last month. I will be praying for you and all of your wonderful family for peace and comfort. I have been reading all the wonderful things that been written about Bruce and I will only say, AMEN!!!!

  48. Just saw this tonight…. worked with Bruce, primarily when he coached at Asheville during my 48 years covering high school sports in NC.

    Though we did not have consistent contact in later years, i knew I could always reach out to Bruce. Such a gentleman gentleman and a coach of stature that I wanted to earn his respect.

    Sending prayers to his family.

    Chris Hobbs
    HobbsDailyReport.com owner, editor and content coordinator
    Previously sports editor at Hickory, Salisbury, Lenoir newspapers; assistant sports editor at Gastonia Gazette;
    sportswriter at The Charlotte Observer and at Hickory Daily Record, 1976-2007

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