Ralph Peterson Endowed Scholarship

Ralph Peterson Endowed Scholarship

Ralph Peterson grew up in a family of nine, where there was no expectation of finishing high school, let alone college or law school.

When he was growing up in the 1920s and 1930s, families like his were just scraping by, trying to keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables. Through his family’s misfortunes and frequent moves, Ralph was determined to create a better, more stable life for himself. One, where he would be assured he would never be cold again.

So he excelled in school and was the only male on his block to graduate from high school. With no financial assistance and by sheer wits and determination, Ralph went on to complete both college and law school at the University of Minnesota.

He accepted a position in Albert Lea, Minn., where he joined the firm of Meighen and Knudsen in 1947. During his fifty plus years in the practice of law, Ralph earned great esteem from colleagues, as evidenced by his election as President of the Minnesota Bar Association, President of the State Board of Education and President of the Lea College Board of Trustees, along with numerous appointments by the State of Minnesota and awards from local boards and committees.

Ralph’s involvement with Riverland begins with his tenure on the State Board of Education, where he was responsible for establishing Albert Lea Area Vocational Technical Institute (now Riverland Community College) in Albert Lea. With a continued passion for learning, Ralph completed classes there while in his 70s, determined to stay mentally alert. Education and lifelong learning, obviously, was always a priority for Ralph and one that he instilled in his four children.

Ralph was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in his mid-80s and passed away in 2013. His daughters Char, Patti, Carol and Anita are proud to offer this scholarship that honors the man who was larger than life and an example to all who knew him.