Geoffrey Petersen ’69

2 November 2015

Class: 1969

Major: English, Medieval Studies, Music

Residence: Plainfield, NJ

Deceased: October 26, 2015

Geoffrey Ames Petersen, 67, passed away October 26, at JFK Medical Center from complications of congestive heart and renal failure. He was predeceased by his parents George and Roberta Petersen of Markham, Illinois. Geoffrey earned his B.A. from Carleton College, M.A from New York University, and conducted his graduate work at Westminster Choir College (Princeton). Geoffrey was a superb teacher instructing students at the Cathedral School (St. John the Divine) and later at The Town School where he taught English and music. He assisted Dr. Vernon deTar for twelve years at Church of Ascension and studies at the Hebrew Union College, Institute for Synagogue Musicians. When he moved from New York City to Plainfield, he became the organist/choir director at the First Unitarian Society of Plainfield and Temple Emanu-El in Westfield. He taught at the Newark Boys Chorus School as assistant conductor, and at Wardlaw-Hartridge in Edison. He loved assisting Joan Gregoryk (Children’s Chorus of Washington) at Westminster Choir College’s summer session and was head of the Church Music Certificate Program (1988 until its phase out) also at Westminster. He was a member of the American Guild of Organists where he moderated Church Music—Do We Have a Future? And accompanied the National Jewish Chorale (Merkin Hall). Geoffrey composed, taught piano privately, and had affiliations with The American Choral Directors Association and the Hymn Society of America. Geoffrey was a perfectionist. His prodigious talents enriched the many institutions and people (children and adults) to which he brought thoughtfulness, discipline, and warmth. His counsel was wise and his teaching was excellent. He also was a self-taught gourmet cook. Geoffrey is survived by his beloved sister, Kimberley (Brian) Summers; nephews, Adam (Rachel), Brett (Samantha), Eric (Stephanie), and five grandnieces and nephews of Dyer, Indiana; and former spouse, Barbara Peterson, New York. He leaves behind many friends in the Plainfield and musical communities, and his devoted rescue dog, Bambi. Donations can be made in memory of Geoffrey to Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota; the Children’s Chorus of Washington, in D.C.; or a charity of choice. Memorial service to be announced.