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In Memoriam:  Dr. Robert Peterson (1920-2003)

Pictured above:  Dr. Robert Peterson, the "father" of the Academic Decathlon

Although we are saddened to report the death of Dr. Robert Peterson, a great friend to and the “father” of the United States Academic Decathlon, we have been privileged to be recipients of the wisdom and foresight of this most worthy educator. His active career as an innovative leader and highly productive individual enabled him to utilize multiple skills that promoted positive educational experiences for school age youth, initially in Orange County, California, but ultimately throughout the entire United States.

As all leaders, special attributes enable ‘the never thought of’ to become a reality. As Bob Galvin, Chairman of the Board at Motorola, once stated, “We measure the effectiveness of the true leader not in terms of the leadership he evokes, but in terms of the power he releases in others; not in terms of the goals he sets and the directions he gives but in terms of the plans of action others work out for themselves with his help; not in terms of decisions made, events completed and the inevitable success and growth that follow from such released energy but in terms of growth in competence, sense of responsibility and in personal satisfaction among many participants. Under this kind of leadership it may not always be clear at any given moment just who is leading, nor is this important. What is important is that others are learning to lead as well.” For those of you who have known Dr. Peterson personally or have been integrally involved with children engaged in the Academic Decathlon, you will readily identify Bob’s wisdom and leadership as it becomes recognized through contributions made by academic decathletes.

Dr. Robert Peterson, exemplified all that is right about the American educational system and was a strong advocate for all children. As founder of USAD, he enabled thousands of high school age students to reach high levels of academic achievement through competition. Dr. Peterson will be truly missed. However, his leadership and educational contributions shall live on forever through the many bright minds that have been turned even brighter because of his insight!

By Dr. E. Arthur Stunard
United States Academic Decathlon