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Home arrow News arrow Obituaries arrow Obituaries: Frank S. Petersen (June 20, 1922 – May 23, 2011)


Obituaries: Frank S. Petersen (June 20, 1922 – May 23, 2011)

Frank S. Petersen died peacefully at home in Fort Bragg surrounded by family on May 23, 2011, less than a month shy of his 89th birthday, of complications from a stroke.

Frank was born in a logging camp at the head waters of Alder Creek, Elk, Mendocino County, California, on June 20, 1922. He was raised on the Mendocino Coast, attending Fort Bragg Elementary, Junior High, and High School, graduating in 1940. Frank served in the South Pacific for three years during World War II with the US Navy Seabees. After being honorably discharged in 1945, Frank returned to Fort Bragg and worked in the woods on the Crispin Ranch. In the fall of 1946, he commenced studies at Santa Rosa Junior College, received an AA degree in 1948; then graduated from law school at the University of San Francisco with a Juris Doctor degree in 1951.

Frank commenced practicing law in Ukiah, Mendocino County, with Preston, Falk and Johnson in 1952. In October of 1954, he went to work with Mendocino County District Attorney Merle Orchard as Deputy District Attorney until 1960. In 1960, he was appointed the District Attorney of Mendocino County and served in that capacity from 1960 to 1962. In 1962, Frank was elected State Senator for the Fourth Senatorial District representing Lake and Mendocino Counties.

On August 15, 1966, while still serving in the legislature, he was appointed Superior Court Judge of Del Norte County by Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown. Judge Petersen served for 22 years as Superior Court Judge and presided in 18 other counties in the State of California, plus served on assignments to the Third District and First District Court of Appeals. In 1978-1979, Frank was president of the “Cow County Judge’s Association,” attended many workshops and was often a panelist. As Superior Court Judge, Frank lectured on small court management at Boldt Hall College for Trial Judges from 1978 to 1980. In 1988, he retired from the bench.

In 1990, Frank reinstated his state bar license to practice law and became a partner in the firm Petersen, Harland & Gromala in Crescent City. He retired from private practice in 1993, returned to the bench as part of the Assigned Judges Program, and presided in courts all over Northern California until his retirement in 2009.

Frank spent a lifetime in the outdoors. He was a conservationist and steward of the land. He had a genuine respect and empathy for his fellow human beings and truly cared for the less fortunate.

Frank is survived by his wife, Marianne Petersen; children Gregory Petersen, Christine Petersen-Nave, Marcia Sanderson, Wanda Petersen-Alfven, Sandy Petersen-Miller, and Mary Petersen-Pool; brothers Kenneth Petersen, Robert Petersen, Allen Petersen and Richard Petersen; twenty grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

A time of reflection and of quiet begins at 1­ p.m. on June 4 at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, followed by a prayer service at 3 p.m. A celebration of life will be held at Redwood Coast Senior Center, 490 North Harold Street, Fort Bragg, at 4 p.m.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Joseph’s Church in Crescent City, California, on June 10 at 1 p.m. with fellowship to follow at the Lighthouse Inn, 681 Highway 101 South, Crescent City.

— Submitted by Family


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