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Douglas L. Peterson

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April 12, 1924 - June 27, 2008 Former Resident Castro Valley Renaissance scholar, jazz trumpet player, and charismatic teacher, Douglas L. Peterson, Professor Emeritus of English at Michigan State University, passed away in Lansing, MI, on June 27, 2008, at age 84. He was born in San Jose on April 12, 1924, grew up in the Bay area, and graduated from Los Gatos High School, where he played varsity football and baseball. After service in the U.S. Army during WW II, he attended Santa Clara University for two years and pitched for the Broncos. He transferred to Stanford University, from which he earned his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in English and to which he returned briefly in 1967 as a visiting professor of English. From 1960-77 Doug was a member of the Department of English at California State University at Hayward (now CSU East Bay), which honored him with a Distinguished Professor Award in 1965-66. He chaired the English Department from 1971-77. Before his service at CSU East Bay, he held faculty appointments at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Washington. In 1977, he became chairperson of the Department of English at the University of Mississippi, later joining the Department of English at Michigan State University, from which he retired in 1996, concluding a teaching career that spanned forty-two years at six universities His numerous professional publications included two books of major impact in his primary area of academic specialization, the literature of the English Renaissance: The English Lyric from Wyatt to Donne: A History of the Plain and Eloquent Styles and Time, Tide, and Tempest: A Study of Shakespeare's Romances. He also published articles on twentieth-century American poetry and made frequent presentations at professional venues across the USA and abroad. Doug's professional honors included appointment as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Helsinki in Finland, two appointments as a Huntington Library Fellow, and a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies. He also received an All-University Research Grant from Michigan State University. An accomplished jazz lead trumpet player, Doug performed with numerous bands, including Don Piestrup's Big Band, Maynard Ferguson's Full Faith and Credit Big Band in San Francisco, and the MSU Jazz Band. He was also an avid tennis player for over forty years, competing most recently in the Donald J. Montgomery memorial tennis league. Surviving him are his wife Kathy, daughters Kristin (Stephen Arch), Erin, and Lisa, son Douglas (Joy), and six grandchildren. A celebration of Doug's life is planned at a future date. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Department of English, c/o 101 Linton Hall, MSU, East Lansing, MI 48824-1044 or the Mother Teresa House for the Terminally Ill, P. O. Box 13004, Lansing, MI 48901.
Published in Inside Bay Area on July 4, 2008
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