In Memoriam: Robert Peterson


by Steven Marsh

I am sad to report to the health physics community that Robert Eugene Peterson (60) passed away at home on 20 September 2015. Bob's health physics career spanned 39 years. He was a 1976 graduate of the Purdue University Health Physics Program.

Bob's career started at the University of Cincinnati as a staff health physicist. His next career advancement took him north to the Medical College of Ohio (MCO) in Toledo where he accepted a health physicist position with the Radiation Safety Section. While performing his health physics duties at MCO, Bob met and married his wife of 36 years, Denise.

From MCO Bob and Denise moved to Champagne, Illinois, where Bob accepted a health physicist position with the University of Illinois Radiation Safety Section.

Bob's next career move took him and Denise to the northeast, where Bob accepted the radiation safety officer (RSO) position at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. It was here that Bob and Denise brought their first child, Phillip, into the world. Phillip is currently a board-certified emergency room physician near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Bob's next professional move took him, Denise, and Phillip back to Bob's Midwest roots, when he accepted the RSO position at Marshfield Clinic in Marshfield, Wisconsin. During this stay Bob, Denise, and Phillip celebrated the birth of Mathew and welcomed him into their loving family. Mathew completed his bachelor's degree and is working in Pickerington, Ohio, with a local electric-supply company.

It was over the course of his 10-year stay at Marshfield that Bob immersed himself in his career and his family. Bob was very active with the boys as they grew older, playing sports with them, participating in scouts, and serving as a scout leader. Over those years, Bob never lost his passion for Purdue's football and basketball teams.

In June of 1995, Bob's next career move took him to The Ohio State University (OSU) as a medical health physicist, and shortly after, he was appointed the university RSO, the position he held until his passing. In addition to his duties as the RSO, Bob also served for 15 years on the State of Ohio Governor's Radiation Advisory Council, and he served in many positions with the local Buckeye Chapter of the Health Physics Society.

It was at OSU where I had the pleasure of working alongside Bob and was fortunate to have him as a friend as well. Bob was always very professional, but he also had a great sense of humor and was well grounded. He guided the Radiation Safety Section with a very stable focus, yet he never let the job interfere with the human aspect of his professional interactions. He always made time for anybody who searched out his counsel.

As Denise always said, he was "one of the good guys" of all time. He enjoyed his family time, his cruises, Purdue athletics, and camping. He will be missed especially by the health physics community.