Dr. George R. Pettersen


DR. GEORGE RICHARD PETTERSEN, former Commissioner of Health for the State of Minnesota died on Tuesday, December 3 2019 at the age of 95. He was born in St. Paul, MN on January 1, 1924 to John and Mary Pettersen.

He attended Central High School and Macalester College in St. Paul before entering the US Navy in 1943. He was discharged from the Navy when the war ended and enrolled at the University of Minnesota. In January of 1947, he married Eleanor Hagen, and they had a long and happy life together. He graduated from the University Medical School in 1951 and interned at Minneapolis General Hospital before practicing medicine in Mabel, MN from 1952 to 1956. Dr. Pettersen spent a year of residency at Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul and the following year moved to Aitkin, MN where he and Dr. Richard E. Burman opened a family practice. In 1971, he and Eleanor left Aitkin and joined Project Hope in Jamaica and Brazil. In 1973 he attended the UCLA School of Public Health and obtained a Master of Public Health degree. Moving back to Rochester, MN the following year, he became the health officer of Olmsted County. In 1979 he was appointed Commissioner of Health for the State of Minnesota by Governor Al Quie and in 1983 he and Eleanor moved to Redlands, CA where he became the Director of Public Health and Health Officer of San Bernardino County from which he retired in 1993. In 2010 they moved to Crosby, MN where they have been living in the Heartwood Retirement Center. Being lifelong Lutherans, they joined Salem Lutheran Church of Deerwood, MN. Dr. Pettersen’s outside interests have been hunting, fishing, golf and traveling.

He is survived by wife, Eleanor, son Charles (Connie) Pettersen of Aitkin, MN, two granddaughters Karin (Grant) Jordahl of Eagan, MN, and Katie Pettersen, Cloquet MN, plus great-granddaughters Autumn and Violet Jordahl and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, four brothers and one sister.

A Memorial Service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, December 14, 2019 at Heartwood Senior Living in Crosby. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service.

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