Edward Peterson

Edward H. Peterson

1936 - 2021

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Obituary of Edward H. Peterson

Edward Hinshaw "Big Ed" Peterson, 84, entered into rest on February 17, 2021, at his home in Indian Wells, California. Ed succumbed to MDS, family by his side, but now is at peace, having suffered little pain. Ed was born to delighted parents Edward H. Peterson of Santa Rosa, and Elaine Ellis Peterson, of Petaluma, in Santa Rosa on October 13, 1936. Ed was a sixth generation Californian and a resident, through his life, of Santa Rosa, Piedmont, Graton, Orinda, and Indian Wells. He attended Fremont Elementary School, Santa Rosa Junior High School, Army Navy Academy high school in Carlsbad, California, and graduated with a business degree from the University of California at Berkeley. He was a member and president of Zeta Psi fraternity, and a member of Skull & Keys and Beta Beta. Cal is also where he met his wife of 47 years and mother of his children, Barbara Bell "Bug" Peterson of Piedmont. Ed was married twice. Bug predeceased Ed in 2008. Then, for ten years, he was married to Gail Dutton of Santa Rosa and Graton, who remained his close companion until his passing. Ed's father, known as Duke, was a Santa Rosa farmer specializing in hops, prunes, and green beans, who died in 1943 at a very young age. Thus Ed joined the family farming business being quite young himself. Ed’s mother Elaine remarried in 1946 to Edward Healey, who became a wonderful mentor and stepfather. However, the hop industry had slowed by the time Ed was out of college, so instead he embarked on his lifelong career in real estate. About 1960, Ed joined Grubb & Ellis, working with Hal Ellis and his team as the firm was just starting out. Ed transacted commercial real estate deals throughout the western United States for over a decade. Then, in 1972, Ed and his lifelong pal Vic Nelson founded Nelson Peterson Associates, later to become NP&A. They led the firm for many years, selling and leasing what Ed would say was "almost every building in the San Francisco financial district." During this time Ed also invested in and redeveloped industrial real estate. By 1986, Ed's side business became a full-time endeavor, and Ed semi-retired from the corporate world to focus on his real estate interests, founding Peterson Properties in 1986. His children all entered the business and have worked alongside Ed for many years. Ed was a member of Eldorado Country Club in Indian Wells, the Bohemian Club and Pacific Union Club in San Francisco, Claremont Country Club in Oakland, the Outrigger Canoe Club in Honolulu, and horseback riding clubs including the Sonoma County Trailblazers, the Frontier Boys, and the Wild Oak Saddle Club. Ed also enjoyed Lifetime Membership in the Society of California Pioneers in San Francisco. Ed loved sports. While in high school, Ed was a triple varsity letterman in football, basketball, and track, then went on to play freshman basketball at Cal. Ed's love of sports continued through his life. As a spectator, Ed was a lifetime season ticket holder and Bear Backer for the University of California Golden Bears football and basketball teams. And as a participant, Ed enjoyed waterskiing on Lake Tahoe and the Sacramento Delta, hunting in California, Alaska, Colorado, Canada, Mexico, and Africa, and snow skiing at his beloved Sugar Bowl, as well as at Aspen, Vail, and Sun Valley. He spent many years supporting Sugar Bowl, as both a skier and Chairman of the Board of the corporation. Ed traveled extensively in his life. While he enjoyed regular trips to Aspen, Lake Tahoe, La Jolla, and Hawaii (Ed taking in the tropic sun of Honolulu almost annually), he and his companions - Bug & later Gail, also traveled the world. When asked to recall his favorite trip, Ed always replied fondly that it was the family trip to London, Africa, and Rome in 1987. Ed was a lifelong parishioner, first at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Oakland, then later at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert. Fundraising was also a lifelong passion for Ed. For UC Berkeley, Ed served as Chairman of the UC Berkeley Foundation and became a Trustee Emeritus. Ed also assisted in fundraising for various campus disciplines and was a Berkeley Fellow. He served as the Northern California co-chair of the Keeping the Promise Campaign and raised money for the 25th and 50th reunions for the Class of '58. He was instrumental in the lead gifts for various buildings on the Cal campus, including the Valley Life Sciences building and the Bancroft Library. The bronze Mark Twain bench in the Doe Library commemorates one of his most fond philanthropic accomplishments. He assisted from the outset with the Builders of Berkeley wall and is a "Builder" himself. He was also the recipient of the Wheeler Oak Meritorious Award and the Chancellor's Award. In the Palm Springs area, Ed served on the Board of Trustees of Eisenhower Health in Rancho Mirage and was formerly a Chairperson of Eisenhower Health Foundation. He was an eager supporter of both Eisenhower Health and St. Margaret's Church in Palm Desert. Ed also served on various committees and loved assisting with the governance of Eldorado Country Club. He was a supporter of The Living Desert in Palm Springs and a supporter of Cardinal Newman High School's post-fire rebuilding project in Santa Rosa. Early in his life in Oakland, Ed had also served on the Board of Trustees of Children's Hospital of Oakland. Ed was predeceased by his mother Elaine Ellis Peterson Healey, father Edward Hinshaw Peterson and stepfather Edward Joseph Healey, and his wife of 48 years Barbara Bell Peterson of Piedmont. He is survived by his second wife Gail Dutton, his brother Jerrold E. Peterson, sister Adrienne Hotchkiss (husband Bruce), daughter Carolyn Baxter (husband Greg), sons Ted (wife Caryl), and Steve (wife Liz), and grandchildren Jordan and Brett Baxter, and Duke, Clay, Tate, Blake, Katherine, and Sally Peterson. And not to forget one more survivor: Riley, his Labrador retriever who was at Ed's side every minute of the day and night. Charity was a big part of Ed's life. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in memory of Ed to Eisenhower Health Foundation, 39000 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage, California, 92270 (eisenhowerhealth.org/giving), or University of California Berkeley Foundation, Attention: Gift Services, 1995 University Avenue, Suite 400, Berkeley, California 94704-1070 (give.berkeley.edu), or to the charity of your choice. There will be a private service at Santa Rosa Memorial Park. Due to the pandemic, celebrations of Ed's life will be postponed until such time that gatherings can be arranged. If you would like please visit Ed's tribute wall at www.wiefels.com to share memories or stories.
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