Edward "Ed" Peterson, 77, of Los Angeles and Las Vegas, passed away at home, May 21, 2009, following complications from surgery. He is survived by his wife, Kim White Peterson; son, Erik Peterson; daughters, Heather Curtis and Holly Peterson; as well as his five grandchildren, Blynn, Samuel, Molly, Emma and Sophia.
He was born in Forest Hills, N.Y., to Edward E. Peterson Sr. and Beatrice May Spinney Peterson, and grew up in Marblehead, Mass., before graduating cum laude from St. Mark's Prep School in Southborough, Mass., in 1949. As a young man, Peterson was active in various summer stock companies throughout New England. He graduated from Princeton University with a degree in American civilization in 1954, where he was a member of the Key and Seal Club and the Triangle Club. He also did graduate work in the Yale School of Drama's technical design program, and served at the U.S. Army Television Center during the Korean War.
Peterson's distinguished career began in New York, where he worked with consultants and manufacturers of stage lighting and rigging equipment. During many years with Kliegl Brothers, he contributed to the lighting for Lincoln Center and other premier venues, before going on to form his own companies. He made his mark on Las Vegas by contributing to the lighting systems for some of the city's biggest attractions, including the Mirage, Caesars Palace, Treasure Island and the Bellagio.
A true innovator in the field of lighting, his day-to-night-to-day sky feature at the Forum Shops at Caesars was considered by Time Magazine to be one of Las Vegas' most unique highlights. As lighting consultant for IBM, Peterson won numerous exhibit and display awards and was a regular speaker at both USITT and LDI conventions. He was a founding member of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) in 1961, and twice served as its treasurer (in 1965 and 1973-74). When asked to take on this role, he initially declined, but USITT insisted because of Peterson's well-known reputation for being, as they said, "scrupulously honest." He continued to serve USITT in a variety of roles through the 1960s and 1970s, including on the board of directors from the late 1960s through 1974, with an additional term 1975-77.
He was one of the first Fellows of USITT, inducted in 1977. "The honorary designation of Fellow of the Institute is bestowed for life upon those members who have made a truly outstanding contribution to the theatre and the work of the Institute." On his passing, the Institute described him as "one of its stalwart elder statesmen," and said "his service was of the highest order and will always serve as an example."
An avid reader, Peterson took great pleasure in life, books and his family, and his convivial personality will be missed by all who knew him. For more information, please contact Holly Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.