A memorial service celebrating the life of Dr. Douglas Peterson will be held at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at Noel Memorial United Methodist Church, Rev. Jo Ann Cooper officiating. A reception will follow the service.
A beloved husband, father, grandfather, teacher and professional musician, Douglas Peterson was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, son of Norman Howard Peterson and Anna Agnes Rushing Peterson. His family moved to Shreveport when he was 5 years old and moved to Bossier City three years later. A graduate of Bossier High School, he attended Centenary College of Louisiana where he met Jane, his wife of 56 years. Douglas earned two bachelors degrees from Centenary, in Arts and Humanities and in Music Education, then served on active duty in the Army from 1955-1958 as a member of the 4th U.S. Army Band. Returning to school, he earned two more degrees, a Masters in Education Administration and Supervision and a Masters in Music Education, both from Northwestern State University. During his years of schooling, Douglas earned membership in Omicron Delta Kappa, Kappa Delta Pi, Phi Mu Alpha and Phi Delta Kappa.
Moving his young family back to Bossier City, Douglas started the Greenacres Junior High band program in 1959 and the Airline High School band program in 1964. He took a sabbatical in 1970 and finished his formal education with a Doctor of Arts in Music at the University of Mississippi, where he and Jane and their four children built lifetime memories living in student housing. The children remember fondly their 38-year-old dad marching in the Ole Miss band. They returned to Bossier City, where he continued as director of Airline’s award-winning band, serving also as Assistant Principal of Airline High School in 1973. He was then appointed to lead a pilot program called Airline thirteenth and fourteenth grades. This program allowed students to receive freshman and sophomore credits from certified Airline High School faculty. Under Dr. Peterson’s leadership, he and his outstanding staff and faculty negotiated the separation of the program from pilot status to what is now Bossier Parish Community College. He served as Chancellor for fifteen years, during which time the college received degree-granting authority and, subsequently, full accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). A major highlight was when BPCC hosted the International Science and Engineering Fair. Also during that time, Douglas founded the 156th Army Band in the Louisiana Army National Guard and served as its Conductor for 18 years. In 1988, he left the college to become Superintendent of Schools of Bossier Parish, where he served until 1991. After a short “retirement,” Douglas founded and served as Director of the National Guard Youth Challenge Program in Louisiana for five years. Dr. Peterson was proudest professionally of the fact that he founded five of the six organizations for which he worked in leadership roles, and all five are still thriving today. Douglas was also involved in his community. He served terms as Chairman of the Board or President of the Armed Forces Bandmasters Association, the Bossier City Lions Club, the Bossier Family YMCA and the Shreveport Summer Band Association. He served on many boards of directors and government commissions, including The Louisiana State Board of Ethics, the HAP House, The Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau, Shreveport-Bossier Leadership, the Shreveport Symphony, the Shreveport Opera Society and the National Conference of Christians and Jews. He also held committee and other leadership positions for many other local agencies and charities.
He and Jane have been members of Noel Methodist since 1973; Douglas served faithfully as a member of the Administrative Board, a choir member, a member of the music committee and the grounds committee, and a Sunday School teacher for college students. He was a member of at least eight national education and music societies. Dr. Peterson also received numerous honors in the military and the fields of education and music, including the Liberty Bell award from the Bossier Law Association and the Mr. Bossier Award from the Bossier Optimist Club. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Louisiana Music Educators Association and was a Melvin Jones Fellow in Lions International; he also earned the award as Outstanding Unit Commander of the Louisiana National Guard, the Youth Challenge Lifetime Award from the National Guard Bureau and the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal and National Defense Medal. Through it all run common themes of service and love of youth and children. Douglas touched thousands of student’s lives – those he taught music, those who advanced themselves in college and those who turned their lives around in the Youth Challenge program. His roles in helping those troubled youth and in helping educate all the students of Bossier Parish meant a lot to Douglas. He was especially honored by his students who grew to have a life-long love of music.
More than the strong organizations he created, more than all his work teaching and helping students, Douglas Peterson was proud of his family – of his wife, Jane Thompson Peterson – of his four children, Kathy, Doug Jr., Andy and Mary Ann – and of his nine grandchildren. He is survived by his wife, Jane, and by his children and their spouses: Kathy and Jim Adams of Dallas, Texas, Doug and Lindy Peterson of Cedar Park, Texas, Andy and Janet Peterson of St. Petersburg, Florida, and Mary Ann and David Sikes of Bossier City. He is also survived by his grandchildren, who were born from 1987 through 2000: Spencer Adams, his wife Heidi, and Mallory Adams; Ben, his fiancée Lauren Wicker, Emily and Sarah Peterson; Laura and Luke Peterson; and Parker and Jackson Sikes. On his 80th birthday, Douglas’s grandchildren gave him a book “80 Reasons We Love Paw Paw”, composed entirely by them. Among Jane’s favorites are “I love that there is no melody on earth that isn’t somewhere in Paw Paw’s head”, “I love waking up at your house to fresh squeezed orange juice and Paw Paw bacon”, “I am proud that people see bits of my Paw Paw in me; I can think of no one I am more proud to be like”, and “I love that you taught all of us how to love”.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions be made to the Douglas Peterson Scholarship Fund at BPCC. Please contact Sandra Johnson, Citizen’s National Bank, 2711 E. Texas Street, Bossier City, LA 71111. (318) 747-6000.