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John L. Peterson
January 24, 1929 - September 30, 2012

John L. Peterson

John L. Peterson
Jan 24, 1929 - Sep 30, 2012

John L. Peterson
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Madison - John L. Peterson died on Sunday, September 30, 2012. He was born January 24, 1929 in Waseca, Minnesota to Lawrence R. and Lida (Ericson) Peterson. He married Carolyn Johnson July 18, 1953 in Chicago, Illinois. He leaves two children; a son, Mark, married to Ryia (Ross) and a grandson Jake; a daughter, Elinor, married to Michael J. Guzniczak and two granddaughters, Lauren and Emily.

He attended Waseca, Minnesota public schools graduating in 1947 and then earned a Bachelor degree in Speech from Grinnell College in 1951. He continued his education at Case-Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio earning a Master of Arts degree in Speech and Hearing Disorders in 1952. After serving in the US Air Force for two years, he was employed as a clinical audiologist for Veterans Administration in Atlanta, Georgia. Subsequently, he attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois and was awarded a PhD in Audiology in 1959.

He began his career as an educator and administrator at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that same year teaching a course in audiology and administering the Speech and Hearing Rehabilitation Center on campus. He moved to Louisiana State University Medical School in 1962 where he developed a graduate training program in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. After a one-year sabbatical leave in 1968-1969 at Sahlgren's Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden, conducting research on the middle ear, he returned to LSU and was selected as Dean, School of Allied Health Professions. He led the school for five years until his return to UW-Madison to become the first Dean of a new School of Allied Health Professions. He stepped down from that position in 1980 to return to teaching audiology in the Department of Communicative Disorders. He retired in 1989.

Continuing his interest in travel which began many years previously, he and his wife took many trips to Europe, Asia, Africa as well as North and South America. He and Carolyn purchased a second home in Seaside, Florida, upon retirement where they spent winter months for several years.

After the death of his wife, he served as a member of the Advisory Council of the Chasen Museum of Art on the UW-Madison campus. He also established the John and Carolyn Peterson Charitable Foundation providing funding to several visual and performing arts programs and architectural activities in Madison and other cities.

A memorial service will be held at FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, 203 Wisconsin Avenue, Madison, on Sunday, October 14, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. with Rev. Carly Kuntz officiating. A gathering will be held at the church on Sunday from 2:00 p.m. until the time of service. Private inurnment will be held at Forest Hill Cemetery.

The family requests that you write down your favorite memory/story of John and share online at

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the John and Carolyn Peterson Charitable Foundation, P.O. Box 1507, Brookfield, WI 53008 or Attic Angels Place, Resident Aid Fund, 8301 Old Sauk Road, Middleton, WI 53562.

Dorothy Hayes on Oct 15, 2012

The compassion of John and Carolyn brings immediately to mind the acceptance of others in their lives. When Claude was receiving cancer treatments at Mayos in Rochester, MN, he was home only during the weekends. I became the week-day evening guest in their house. Since they were excellent cooks, I was treated to luscious meals, the sharing of funny events of the day and the opportunity to prepare for lectures with John since he and I had filled in for Claude with his clinical and classroom requirements. We wrote the exams, doing whatever was necessary. We worked well together while Carolyn cleaned up from the dinner. How could anyone have been more fortunate!
Of course, I have to add the dinner they planned for us when we retired. John dug a hole in the ground making an oven in which to bake a chicken since it was part of the cocktail hour goodies that evening. Then, we had to dig it out so Carolyn could serve the sliced chicken as an hors-d'oeuvre. It was great fun since we didn't know why we were digging to "China" and for what we were searching! Add the time they had a chocolate party for me for my birthday- Many chocolate desserts arrived and filled their dinning room table. Each guest brought a contribution that was "out-of-this-world" and we took home any leftovers!
These are small examples of their contributions to our lives. We miss both John and Carolyn. They remain very vividly in our memories. May they rest in love and peace forever.

Tom Terry on Oct 15, 2012

John was a wonderful man, cheerful and upbeat. Even in the past few years when John's health wasn't so great he still maintained a positive attitude. I really get to know John and Carolyn when several of the Directors of the Chazen Art Museum went to New York to see some very special private art collections. We had a great time; they were wonderful to be with. The Carolyn and John Peterson Foundation was such a positive support to our community and John was always there, not just to give financial support but to show a real interest in the success of the organization. We will all miss you John. I send my deepest sympathy to the family but I am sure you are all very proud of this very special man. Tom

Norma Domian Magnuson on Oct 14, 2012

For the family of John Peterson:
I usually skim the obituaries in the paper, and the word "Waseca" caught my attention in your father's obituary. I lived in Waseca, Minnesota, from 1940 to 1945, when I was ages 6 to 11. My father was the school superintendent in Waseca. My brother, Louis Domian, was good friend of John Peterson. My mother was a friend of your grandmother, Lida. (I called her "Mrs. Pete.) Mrs. Pete made me a pink organdy dress with blue embroidery one year for my Easter dress. I suppose I was in 2nd or 3rd grade; I was thrilled with that dress! The other main thing that I remember about John were some pieces of doll house furniture that he (and perhaps his father helped) made for me. John was always kind to me tho I was his friend Louis' little sister. I wish I had known that John was living in Madison; I would have contacted him. My husband and I have lived in Madison for 43 years; he is a retired UW professor of zoology and limnology.

I am sorry for your loss. Sincerely, Norma Domian Magnuson

Susan Derse Phillips on Oct 14, 2012

Dear John, you came into my life as your beloved Carolyn was dying. It began a wonderful relationship that covered many years. You and Carolyn have done so many wonderful things for our community. I want you to know how much they are appreciated. But more than the gifts, your inquisitive, caring spirit is what I will always remember and carry with me. Over the past year, in particular, your gestures of kindness and caring have been so wonderful, and needed. There are no words big enough to express my gratitude. And that's just because you were you! It was also fun to work with you on the fellows programs. Clearly it combined two of your loves, especially education. Your belief that caring doesn't end when a cure can't be found spurred the development of a palliative hospice fellowship program shared by three Wisconsin health organizations, HospiceCare, UW Hospital and the VA Hospital. Your vision and tenacity were at play in the very best ways to help make this a reality. And our communities will be better served with talented, caring physicians. I will miss you dear friend. We'll meet again soon. Fondly, Susan

Mike George on Oct 10, 2012

John loved music. Through the John and Carolyn Peterson Charitable Foundation and personal commitments he enabled thousands of people to experience music as a listener and a participant. It was always a special treat to see John attending events that he helped to support. That personal interest has always meant a lot to people who shared his passions for music and the arts.

Diane Myers on Oct 9, 2012

I'll miss John's quiet yet lively personality, his wit, and intelligence. He was such a classy person - always cheerful and thinking of the other person. John will be missed by everyone who knew him. He left a wonderful legacy through his character and personality.

Pat McBride on Oct 9, 2012

John was one of my favorite patients and friends...we played golf every year in out preventive cardiology outing. Though we shared a common story of being professors and working as deans, he never told me that...he was so humble, he would never talk about his incredible background of accomplishment. He was a quiet, gentle, fun soul, who always would ask how others were doing. I would look forward to every encounter with him, because it would be joyful, and filled with smiles - and it would be gentle, and remind me what was good in this world. I really loved John, and considered him a dear friend, and did not spend enough time with him. Though we did not talk about our work, he taught me much about listening and attitude and patience just being in his presence. We will miss him dearly.

Janet and Tim Reilley on Oct 8, 2012

John Peterson
Janet and I visited John and Carolyn at their Seaside home for three days a few years ago. Great time! Seaside is a walking community on the Gulf shore and unique. It is built with Carolina like homes each with a cupola on top. The cupola's are about six feet by six feet with windows on the sides. John designed and built a large multicolored Fish about four to five feet long and hung it in the cupola. There was a light shinning on the fish at night. Striking!
Carolyn had a most creative mind and she put John to work creating things for the house. As John said, Carolyn designed the "things" and he made them in his large workshop.
John and Carolyn had a cabnet in their living room that was quite unusual. To the best of my memory the cabinet was about five feet long and three feet wide. It was made out of a light brown wood. The wood was scuplted to look like water falling over the edge of the cabinet to the ground. The cabinet opened from the top and when you opened it you had a liquor cabinet. Clever!
Also on the wall of the room was a wooden cabinet with a greek design on the front and was about three feet high and 20 inches wide. It opened in the middle and carried four little tables each of which could hold a plate of food and glassware. John had made those under Carolyn's direction and design.
During the three days we were there, Carolyn never cooked a meal by herself. She would call you to the kitchen and give each of us an assignment for the meal. We had no one to blame if it didn't turn out right. What great people they were. There are other very intriging stories but for now remain silent.
John was a man of great virture, honest and true to his word. His caring for people went unnoticed but it was a richness in him that he quietly shared with those in need. John will be held in great esteem for his goodness to the Madison community and University.
Janet and Tim Reilley

monte ross on Oct 8, 2012

john was a kind gentle man who always thought about what he was about.he was well-rounded ,both mentally smart and skilled with his hands ;he was superb with his woodworing and passed that down to his son he had a wry sense of humor that we liked very much. he was honest and trustworthy. imagine if the world had many more people like john what a wonderful place it would be. he reresented the best in us.

harriet ross on Oct 8, 2012

we will miss dear lovable john, dedicatedfun dad and grandpa;great friend and companion,bon vivant,man of the world;mischeivous smile and wit;woodworker extradinaire;courageous and brave;with foundation-heartffel
generosity;;clever game player;,one of a kind;and seaside pioneer.

Chris Myers on Oct 5, 2012

The difference in years seemed insignificant. The common interests we had and the respect he gave all was a great example.

Peter Lundberg on Oct 2, 2012

John was one of the nicest gentlemen I ever knew. He was a dear and generous friend to so many community organizations, musical and otherwise. I will miss seeing his wonderful smile in the audience, and wonder if some of the harps in heaven might soon be replaced with saxophones and jazz piano! My heartfelt condolences to his family and many dear friends.



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First United Methodist Church
203 Wisconsin Ave.
Madison, Wisconsin 53703
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM


First United Methodist Church
203 Wisconsin Ave.
Madison, Wisconsin 53703
3:00 PM

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