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Doug Peterson, former longtime mayor of Bemidji.

Former longtime Bemidji mayor Doug Peterson dies

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obituaries Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

BEMIDJI - Doug Peterson, former longtime mayor of Bemidji, died Tuesday morning at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, his family confirmed Wednesday. He was 75.


Peterson was mayor from 1975 through 2000, a period when the west side of Bemidji was developed from plain forest into a wide swath of retail stores and restaurants.

"My father told me when I was first elected mayor, 'You can lead this community to either grow or die. And there's no in-between,’ " Peterson told Minnesota Public Radio in 2001. "You don't stand still forever … and I chose to try to make it grow."

Peterson also forged a connection between Bemidji and the city of New Orleans, signing a proclamation declaring the two as “sister cities” with then-New Orleans Mayor Ernest Morial in 1986.

In addition to his role as mayor, Peterson served his community as a volunteer firefighter and a member of the city council. He held a variety of private sector jobs, including as a salesman for Little Falls Granite Works for three decades and as co-owner of several small businesses.