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Obituary: Douglas Petersen, 66, Former State Rep and Agriculture Secretary

Douglas Petersen, 66, of Marblehead, a former state representative for Marblehead and Swampscott, died on July 1.

Douglas Petersen Credit: Obituary photo
Douglas Petersen Credit: Obituary photo

Douglas W. Petersen of Marblehead passed away on July 1, 2014.

The former Democratric state representative from Marblehead, Swampscott and Lynn and Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Commissioner was born in Rockville Centre, N.Y. on March 7, 1948. He held a B.A. from Wagner College, an M.S.W. from Simmons College and an M.P.A. from Harvard University.

Petersen began a career in social work and administration as a therapist and clinical director for the North Essex Health Resource Center. Actively involved in advocating and advancing public policy for the National Association of Social Workers, he entered politics in 1990 when he ran and won election to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in a district that encompassed Marblehead, Swampscott and a portion of Lynn, realizing a long held aspiration. Over the course of his career, Petersen sponsored and co-sponsored over 250 bills. In the forefront of environmental issues, he was also a proponent of campaign finance reform, and an advocate for women's rights and marriage equality. He served as House Chairman of the Joint Committee of the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. He was re-elected to seven more terms in the State Legislature before being appointed Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, a position he held from 2007-2009.

Petersen was an avid skier, golfer, gardener and artist. Married to Nancy Ryan Petersen, M.D. for 28 years, Petersen is survived by son Ryan Petersen and fiancée Jody Roberts of Philadelphia, Penn; a daughter, Katrin Petersen of Los Angeles, Calif; a brother, Roger Petersen and sister-in-law Peggy Petersen of New York; and nieces and nephews Jamie Loggia, Renee Schardt and Erik Petersen. Private services were held over Independence Day weekend. Memorial donations may be made to the Boys & Girls Club of Lynn, 25 North Common Street, Lynn, MA 01902.

James H. Walsh July 07, 2014 at 06:55 AM
Doug was a thoughtful and dedicated political leader who was also willing to do the less elevated tasks of standing out on a cold morning or in the rain, holding a sign in support of someone or some cause that he supported. He was also a person who generally relied on persuasion of others rather than punishment to attain his goals. The world is a lesser without him.

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