Cover photo for Gary H. Petersen's Obituary
Gary H. Petersen Profile Photo
1947 Gary 2020

Gary H. Petersen

July 14, 1947 — March 5, 2020

A Zoom Celebration of Life was held on Saturday, January 9, 2021. The photo video of Gary may be viewed in the video section above.
{In lieu of flowers, memorial donations are noted below.}

GARY HAROLD PETERSEN, age 72, of North Mankato, MN died from Acute Myeloid Leukemia on Thursday, March 5, 2020 at Rochester Methodist Hospital in Rochester, MN surrounded by his loving wife and family.

Gary was born July 14, 1947 in Luverne, MN to Kurt and Dorothy (Kemerling) Petersen. He graduated from Luverne High School in 1965. In 1968 Gary spent his junior year abroad at the University Freiburg in Germany, graduating from Valparaiso University in 1969. After graduation he joined the Peace Corps and served in Kenya from 1969 to 1971. Upon his return to the States, Gary entered Valparaiso University School of Law, graduating in 1974.

On May 18, 1974 Gary was joined in marriage to Elizabeth Hunsberger. That summer they moved to Ashland, Oregon where Gary practiced law with Jackson County Legal Services in Medford, Oregon and later maintained a private practice there.

In 1978, Gary and Elizabeth welcomed their son, Andrew and in 1982 their son Michael.

In 1983, Gary joined the law firm of Williams and Jackson in Boston and later joined Sentry Insurance as an insurance litigator.

In 1990, the family moved to Luverne, Minnesota, Gary’s home town. For the 3 months while he and Elizabeth looked for employment, they lived with Gary’s parents on their family farm. Later that year, Gary was employed with Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services in Worthington, MN, first as a staff lawyer and then as the Director of the Family Farm Law Project, serving 33 counties in southern Minnesota. In 2003 they moved to North Mankato, MN where Gary continued in that position at the Mankato office. In 2013, Gary retired from the practice of law.

Upon retirement, Gary and Elizabeth enjoyed 2 month-long trips to France, Spain, Italy, Austria and Croatia. In Germany, they picked up his brand-new Audi A5. Most recently they enjoyed a trip to Alaska. In addition, they spent several months each year in Sarasota, FL. Gary loved to play tennis and bridge, garden, go fishing and boating with the family, and bike and play Backgammon with Elizabeth. His greatest joy was to spend time with his 3 grandchildren. An avid reader of history and environmental issues, Gary also delighted in Carl Hiaasen and John Grisham novels, as well as his 40-year collection of National Geographic magazines. He is remembered as a kind, generous, and gentle man of integrity and quiet reflection.

Gary is survived by his loving wife of 45 years, Elizabeth; his sons Andrew and wife Christina, and Michael and wife Erin, as well as his cherished grandchildren, Hazel, Ivy, and Jasper; mother Dorothy Petersen, Luverne; brothers Bruce (Karen), Mark, Kevin (Martha), Lyle, Daniel (Dawn), Brad (Amy) and sisters Kate (John) Thomas and Ellie (Bryce) Oldre. Gary was preceded in death by his father, Kurt Petersen.

Memorials are preferred to the Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund in Montgomery, AL (, the Nature Conservancy (call 800.628.6860 to donate to the Gary Petersen memorial) or Dollars for Scholars in Luverne for a memorial scholarship in Gary’s name (PO Box 822, Luverne, MN 56156).

To send flowers to the family in memory of Gary H. Petersen, please visit our flower store.


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