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Quentin R. Petersen

by Susan J. Ainsworth
February 22, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 8


Quentin R. Petersen, 85, an emeritus professor of chemistry at Central Michigan University, died in Schertz, Texas, on Nov. 9, 2009, of heart disease.

Born in Bridgeport, Conn., Petersen served in the Army Air Corps from 1942 until 1945. He survived nine months of captivity after being shot down over Nazi-occupied Greece. After returning to the U.S., he earned a B.S. from Antioch College, in Yellow Springs, Ohio, in 1948 and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Northwestern University in 1952.

Petersen began his career by working as an instructor and assistant professor at Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Conn., until 1957. He then spent nine years at Wabash College, in Crawfordsville, Ind., before moving to Boston-based Simmons College, where he was a professor and department chair until 1969. He served as a professor and chair at Monmouth College, in Illinois, until 1973 and as a professor and chair at Central Michigan University from 1973 until 1978. He retired in 1998.

His research focused on steroids and included work on the preparation of pseudocholesterol. Petersen spent sabbaticals in Spain at the University of Barcelona and the University of Valencia, where he was a Fulbright Lecturer, in Taiwan at Tamkang University, and in New Zealand at the University of Auckland. He served in the ACS Visiting Scientist Program from 1962 to 1974. He was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1947.

Despite having type 1 diabetes, Petersen took up tennis at age 50.

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Peggy; son, Bardo; daughter, Jan Haynie; 10 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.


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