Chase Peterson, 1929-2014
Sep 15, 2014 9:00 AM
Next to my office, in what is now named the Betz Boardroom, hang many portraits of my distinguished predecessors, including Lorris Betz, John Matsen, and Cecil Samuelson. I hold each in the highest regard and am grateful for the wisdom and advice they have each shared with me these past few years. One of my predecessor’s portraits is missing from that room, and so, instead, I have on my desk a photo that was taken of us at an event a couple of years ago. I find that photo encouraging and reassuring. While it’s not as grand as the full-length portrait that hangs in the Park Building, it’s the image that I will always remember of one of my favorite people, Chase Peterson.
Chase sadly passed away this week at the age of 84 after a complicated bout of pneumonia. He served as Senior Vice President of Health Sciences from 1978-1983 before being asked to serve as President of the University. By the time I got to know Chase he was transitioning into retirement from the University. This gave me the opportunity to know him and his remarkable wife, Grethe, in a way that I might not have had I met them earlier in his hectic career. Even in semi-retirement, Chase continued to teach and to serve in a number of roles, including on the rigorous medical school admissions committee up until his illness. Chase remained an active member of the health sciences faculty. You could set your watch by his attendance at various grand rounds, town halls, lectures by visiting speakers, commencements, and even film screenings. I knew when I was giving a presentation and saw him on the front row, he would eventually ask a tough question. And true to his very positive nature, he’d always close his comments with a reassuring word of encouragement.
In the coming weeks and months, many tributes will be paid to a man who has served his university and his community with great dedication, intelligence, generosity, integrity, and humanity. I’d like to add my voice to that crowd and say, thank you Chase, for being my teacher and my friend.
Please feel free to add your rememberances in the comments below.
Watch a video by Lawrence O'Donnell on Dr. Chase Petersoncomments powered by Disqus