Portland icon Tom Peterson battling Parkinson's disease - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland icon Tom Peterson battling Parkinson's disease

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Gloria and Tom Peterson Gloria and Tom Peterson
Image from Tom Peterson's commercial Image from Tom Peterson's commercial
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A popular face you may remember seeing on TV is battling Parkinson's disease, and despite what he's going through, Portland icon Tom Peterson is still in good spirits.

At 84 years old, Peterson can hardly walk on his own and is under 24-hour care at Emerson House.

"He was so full of vigor and vitality and then all of a sudden when this comes into your life it's just a completely different life, but you know you accept things in your life and you go on," said Gloria Peterson, Tom's wife.

Tom Peterson is an icon that many remember watching on TV in the 1980s, and it was his memorable commercials and unusual promotions that set him apart from the rest.

"I was very, very busy. No time to fool around, all work and no play," said Tom Peterson while sitting in a wheelchair at Emerson House in southeast Portland.

Photos: Tom Peterson and his classic commercials

Signs of Parkinson's started showing back in 1992. Gloria Peterson said it became worse as the years went by. In February of this year, Gloria Peterson was forced to move him into the Emerson House so he could get the care he needed.

"It's hard to have him come here because when you've been married for 61 years, it's a long time and so it was just at a point, where we had to do something. It was best for him and I think it was best for me because it was getting to the point it was getting harder," said Gloria.

The Petersons closed their final store in 2009 as Tom Peterson's health worsened.

"It was a good business, he enjoyed the business, he really did and he liked working with customers and they appreciated him," Gloria Peterson said.

Tom Peterson said he still remembers the good ol' days, but thinking about them is tough for the 84-year-old, who can no longer do the things he loves to do.

"He's always had a very good attitude. He doesn't complain and only complained a couple of times, saying he wanted to go home," Gloria Peterson said.

Peterson's family comes out to visit him several times a week to make sure he gets out and to enjoy himself as much as possible.

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