George Arvid Peterson

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George Arvid Peterson

Birthplace: Trenton, Mercer County, New Jersey, United States
Death: November 21, 2008 (65)
Washington, District of Columbia, United States (Brain Tumor)
Immediate Family:

Son of Frederic R. Peterson and Anne Peterson
Husband of Private
Ex-husband of Private
Brother of Capt. David Hill Peterson; William Frederic Peterson and Private

Occupation: National Geographic Executive, Artist
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About George Arvid Peterson

WASHINGTON - George Peterson, a retired vice president and director of educational media at the National Geographic Society who had a successful second career as an artist, died of a brain tumor Nov. 21 at his home in Washington. He was 65.

Mr. Peterson joined the National Geographic Society in 1970 as a photo editor and writer in the educational filmstrip department.

With the advent of the personal computer in the 1970s and 1980s, he led the society's early efforts to produce software. Collaborations Mr. Peterson arranged with Apple Computer, IBM, and filmmaker George Lucas's Lucasfilm produced technological breakthroughs, including the production of the first CD-Rom containing full-motion digital video.

An early advocate of employing communications technology in schools, he produced National Geographic KidsNetwork, a program that enabled students to gather, analyze, and exchange data that they had collected from their science experiments.

He also started the society's Geography Education Program, an effort to improve geography instruction through teacher-training institutes across the country.

Mr. Peterson began to paint during his 26-year career at the society. When he retired as vice president and director of educational media in 1996, he took up the brush full time.

He described himself as an objective painter. His subjects are recognizable, one reviewer said, "but he's most interested in interactions of color, texture, line, and shape. The unifying element of his work is objective form, expressively rendered."

Black bears were a favorite subject, as were cows.

"I paint cows, because I grew up on a dairy farm," he told the Catskill Mountain Foundation. "And I paint cows in series, because I find that their bulky mass lends itself to experimentation with color combinations and infinite variations in color and texture. But true to my roots as an objective painter, I try to capture the essence of the cow personality in each of my paintings."

Mr. Peterson's paintings have been exhibited at the Vanderbilt Gallery on Nantucket; at the Catskill Mountain Foundation in Hunter, N.Y.; and at the Foundry Gallery in the District.

His work was exhibited internationally through exhibitions organized by the State Department.

He contributed two paintings to "Faces of the Fallen," an exhibition of portraits of Iraq and Afghanistan war casualties at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.

George Arvid Peterson was born Jan. 6, 1943, in Trenton, N.J., and grew up on a dairy farm in nearby Hopewell, N.J.

He was a graduate of Phillips Academy in Andover, and he graduated from Princeton University, where he played varsity hockey, in 1965. He received a master's degree from Columbia University's journalism school in 1970.

His marriage to Murray Spalding ended in divorce.

Mr. Peterson leaves his wife of 10 years, Elizabeth "Ibby" Jeppson; two stepchildren; his stepmother, Janet L. Gaston of West Palm Beach, Fla.; a brother; and a sister.

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George Arvid Peterson's Timeline

January 6, 1943
Trenton, Mercer County, New Jersey, United States
November 21, 2008
Age 65
Washington, District of Columbia, United States