Portland, Maine — Douglas W. Petersen, 66, of Marblehead, Mass., passed away on July 1, 2014. The former Democratric State Representative from Marblehead/Swampscott/Lynn and Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Commissioner was born in Rockville Centre, N.Y., on March 7, 1948. He held a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wagner College, a Master of Social Work from Simmons College, and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University.
Petersen began a career in social work and administration as a therapist and clinical director for North Essex Health Resource Center. Actively involved in advocating and advancing public policy for the National Association of Social Workers, he entered politics in 1990, when he ran and won election to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in a district that encompassed Marblehead, Swampscott and a portion of Lynn, realizing a long-held aspiration.
Over the course of his career, Petersen sponsored and co-sponsored over 250 bills. In the forefront of environmental issues, he was also a proponent of campaign finance reform, and an advocate for women’s rights and marriage equality. He served as House Chairman of the Joint Committee of the Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture.
He was re-elected to seven more terms in the State Legislature, before being appointed Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, a position he held from 2007 to 2009.
Petersen was an avid skier, golfer, gardener, and artist.
Married to Dr. Nancy Ryan Petersen, for 28 years, Petersen is survived by son, Ryan Petersen and fiancée, Jody Roberts of Philadelphia, Pa.; a daughter, Katrin Petersen of Los Angeles, Calif.; a brother, Roger Petersen and sister-in-law Peggy Petersen of New York; and nieces and nephews, Jamie Loggia, Renee Schardt and Erik Petersen.
Private services were held over Independence Day weekend. Memorial donations may be made to the Boys & Girls Club of Lynn, 25 North Common Street, Lynn, MA 01902.