Dr. Peterson passed away September 17, 2017

Celebrating the life and career of Dr. Donald Ivan Peterson 
(July 26, 1922 – Sept 17, 2017)

We are saddened by the passing of Dr. Donald Peterson, our longtime Professor of Neurology, on Sunday, September 17, 2017. We will miss him, but are grateful that he chose to spend his career at our institution and will continue to benefit from his contributions in the years to come.

Dr. Donald Peterson was born in the quiet town of Moscow, Idaho, and completed his undergraduate degree at Walla Walla College. He graduated from Loma Linda University School of Medicine in 1946 (class of ‘47) and was in the US Army throughout medical school and then completed an internship at Portland Adventist Hospital before continuing his service in the US Army as a transport surgeon from 1947-1949. Following a stint in private practice in Buckley, Washington, he travelled overseas with his young family to serve as a medical missionary in Nigeria for six years. On his return, he joined the Department of Pharmacology at LLU as an educator and researcher before completing his neurology residency at the Wadsworth Veterans Hospital in Los Angeles.

He joined the LLU Department of Neurology in 1969 and advanced to the level of Professor and finally as Emeritus Professor of Neurology until his passing. It was at Riverside General Hospital (the original RUMC) that Dr. Peterson served as the Chair of the Neurology Section from 1969 until 1991 and the place where he anchored the neurology service for decades. His influence as a neurologist was felt throughout the community and LLU where he was known for his astute, practical, and no-nonsense approach. His service and teaching was recognized in the form of the MacPherson Award (Clinical Teacher of the Year), Outstanding Clinical Instructor Award, and more recently the LLU Distinguished Service Award. Though he had varied interests, his main passion in neurology focused on the management of chronic headaches and the effects of litigation on personal injury claims, leading to numerous publications and presentations in the scientific literature as well as his books “Relief from Headache,” with a 3rd edition update in 2005 and “Lawyers, Litigants & Whores,” a scathing expose/rebuke of the American medical-legal system.

The LLUH Department of Neurology is indebted to Dr. Peterson’s work and are fortunate that his influence continues in the family tradition of great neurologists. His son, Dr. Gordon Peterson (SOM ‘74, Professor of Neurology), is a highly respected clinical educator, researcher, and invaluable core member of our department. We share in his loss and will keep his family in our thoughts and prayers.

Dr. Donald Peterson is survived by his wife of 75 years, Elsie, his son Gordon Peterson, his daughter Carol Lowe of Camarillo, 5 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren.

Services will be limited to family.

In lieu of gifts or flowers well-wishers are encouraged to contribute to either the Peterson Family Endowment Fund (created by Dr. Donald Peterson) or Deferred Mission Appointment Support Fund. Please follow this link and specify which fund you wish to support. Under Tribute Information, you may specify the type as “in  honor of” or “in memory of” Dr. Donald Peterson:


If mailing a donation, checks may be mailed to:

Loma Linda University Health
Office of Philanthropy
PO Box 2000
Loma Linda, CA 92354

(Source: Family of Dr. Peterson and the School of Medicine, LLU)