Dorothy Peterson

May 6, 1926 ~ February 12, 2022 (age 95)


Dorothy Donovan Peterson died February 12, 2022, at Rivermead Retirement Community in Peterborough. She was 95 years old. 

Dorothy Peterson was born in Hanover, daughter of Francis B. and Mildred T. Donovan on May 6th, 1926. She graduated from Peterborough High School in the class of 1944 and attended Russell Sage and Mount Holyoke Colleges.  She married Walter Peterson, who later served as Governor of New Hampshire, in November of 1949. 

Dorothy lived in Peterborough from the time she was three years old until her death. Along with serving as the First Lady of New Hampshire from 1969-1973, she lived a life of service to her family and community. She was active in supporting regional and statewide organizations, including the New Hampshire Lung Association, Monadnock Family Services, New Hampshire Public Radio, and many others. She was the first female president elected to the Monadnock Community Hospital Board of Trustees in 1978. Her involvement with the hospital dates back to when she was a volunteer, along with her mother, during World War II and she went on to serve for many years as a volunteer nurse’s aide.  A garden at the hospital was dedicated in her honor in 2011. 

Dorothy also was president of the Peterborough Historical Society (now the Monadnock Center for History and Culture) and served on the board of directors for The Anna Philbrook Children's Foundation. She was active in All Saints Episcopal Church and for years ran the church Serendipity Shop. In 1997, Dorothy received, along with her husband, the Pettee Medal, the UNH Alumni Association's highest award, for their outstanding contributions to the state and UNH, and in 2010, the couple was awarded the UNH Hubbard Family Award for Service to Philanthropy. She continued her philanthropic and volunteer activity into her 90s and served as an honorary chair of the recently completed Peterborough Town Library renovation project. 

The Petersons were lifelong education advocates. They founded the Walter and Dorothy Peterson Library Fund which enables new UNH faculty to purchase volumes for the university's library collection and endowed the Walter and Dorothy Peterson Scholarship for students of English education and writing at Plymouth State University. They had a deep involvement over many years with the Community College System of New Hampshire and with Franklin Pierce University where her husband served as President.  

Dorothy Peterson leaves two children: Meg Petersen and Andrew Peterson and his wife Kirsten, seven grandchildren:  Jennifer Holland, Anna Cole, Sarah Medearis, Ellie Peterson, Sam González, Marc González, and Max Peterson. She also leaves five great-grandchildren.

A small funeral service for family and local friends will be held at All Saints Episcopal Church at 11 a.m. on Saturday, February 26th with Rev. Betsy Fowle officiating. Burial at Pine Hill Cemetery in Peterborough will take place in a service for family at a later time.  

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in her honor to Monadnock Community Hospital, Dept. of Philanthropy, 452 Old Street Road, Peterborough 03458, Monadnock Family Services 64 Main Street, Keene 03431, or the Monadnock Center for History and Culture. 



Funeral Service
February 26, 2022

11:00 AM
All Saints Episcopal Church

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