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Trustee Gregor G. Peterson, longtime Stanford supporter, dead at 68
Gregor G. Peterson, a Stanford University trustee since 1992 and former chair of the Stanford Management Company, died of esophageal cancer at Stanford Hospital on April 2. Peterson was 68.
"There are very few areas of the university that Greg did not touch with his skills and generosity," said Isaac Stein, chairman of the Board of Trustees. "Stanford and his fellow trustees have lost a true friend. He will be missed."
Peterson joined the Board of Trustees in 1992 and was serving his second five-year term at the time of his death. He also served two terms as a director of the Stanford Management Company and as chairman from 1996 to 2000, a period during which the endowment grew substantially.
Although Peterson was particularly involved in the Stanford University Libraries, the Athletic Department and the Stanford Management Company, he was a "phenomenal contributor" to the university as a whole, said University Librarian Michael Keller. "He was an awfully good Stanford citizen."
In 1998, the Stanford Associates awarded Peterson the Gold Spike award for outstanding contributions to Stanford.
A native of San Francisco, Peterson earned a bachelor's degree in social sciences from Stanford in 1954 and an MBA here in 1959. He served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and in 1961 co-founded Sutter Hill Co., a venture capital and real estate development firm. Peterson also was president and chief executive officer at Genstar Pacific Corp., where he was responsible for real estate-related activities from 1970 to 1975. From 1975 to 1978, Peterson was a consultant and faculty member at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
He was executive vice president of Genstar Corp., a real estate, banking and venture capital firm, where he was in charge of U.S. financial services from 1978 to 1983. From 1991 to 1992, he served as president and chief executive officer of Hogan Systems, a financial software and consulting firm. Peterson, a private investor in recent years, lived in Incline Village, Nev., and San Francisco.
"Gregor was a special friend and a consummate lover of Stanford. At every board meeting, he took the time to pull me aside, tell me how much he loved his alma mater and relish in the fact that Stanford continually made us proud to be graduates," said trustee Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., a professor at Harvard Law School and Stanford alumnus.
"There was integrity all over everything he talked about or did," said Laurie Hoagland, the former president and chief executive officer of Stanford Management Company, now treasurer and chief investment officer of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. "He brought a wealth of business and investment experience that was very helpful in dealing with issues. He was just a great boss to have, in the sense he was very supportive. You knew he would do anything he could to help the management team succeed.
"I think it's fair to say that Greg would have preferred to enjoy his retirement, but he really took on these responsibilities as a duty and personal contribution to Stanford," Hoagland said.
Nancy Coffey, a student of Peterson's in the Business School in 1977, said she kept in touch with him for more than two decades as she worked in commercial real estate in Houston, New York and San Francisco.
"He was always there for business advice, personal advice or whatever. I think he was a mentor to everyone," said Coffey, now living in Menlo Park.
Peterson, a varsity rugby player at Stanford, served on the Stanford Athletic Board from 1983 to 1988. He and his wife, Dion Peterson, a Stanford alumna, established the Gregor G. and Dion Zaches Peterson Championship Fund to pay expenses of varsity athletic teams participating in post-season NCAA competitions. The Petersons also endowed a professorship at the Graduate School of Business.
Peterson is survived by Dion, sons Christopher and Eric, four grandchildren and a sister, Rosemary Nichols, of Menlo Park.
A recital performed by university organist Robert Huw Morgan will be held as a memorial to Peterson at 3:30 p.m. Friday, May 11, at Memorial Church. Contributions in his memory can be made to Memorial Gifts at Stanford University, in care of the Office of Development, 326 Galvez St., Stanford, CA 94305-6105.
By Barbara Palmer