He was born on Aug. 5, 1931, in Gilmore City, Iowa, and graduated from Gilmore City High School in 1948. He farmed in the Badger area, then began a career as a salesman, selling boats, then automobiles. He purchased Mickey Motors in Humboldt and established B&N Auto, a Chrysler dealership. In 1978, his son, Bill, joined him, and in 2001, Petersen retired and began spending winters in Port Aransas.
He married Nellie Evans in 2003.
Survivors in addition to his wife and son Bill (Sheri) Petersen of Humboldt, are his children, Cathy (Geoff) Mickelson of Maui, Hawaii, Steve (Lori) Petersen of Castlerock, Colo., Terry (Donna) Petersen of Des Moines, Dave (Lynn) Petersen of Humboldt, Lyn (Dan) Forgey of Winner, S.D., and Stuart Peterson of Denver, Colo., step-daughter, Lori Schirck of Dakota City; 16 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and a sister-in-law, Rachael Petersen of Humboldt.