Richard Peters, 1939-2018

Professor Emeritus of Education Richard Peters, who was once called “a modern-day Aristotle” by a reporter for The Cornellian, died on Feb. 7. He taught education at Cornell from 1988–2004.

Richard PetersPeters received an associate’s degree from Muscatine Community College, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Iowa. He taught secondary history and social studies for 23 years, including 21 at Mount Vernon High School. He was the Iowa High School Teacher of the Year in 1986, a Fulbright scholar to Egypt, and a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Peters also served as mayor of Mount Vernon.

Cornell awarded Peters with an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 1987. In the citation, Peters was described as winning the respect of students and colleagues through his “energy, infectious enthusiasm, good humor, thorough knowledge, creativity, and humane consideration for others.”

More than 400 Cornell students became teachers during his Cornell years, and Peters was Cornell’s Commencement speaker in 1990 and 2001.

The family prepared this obituary:

Richard Earl Peters, 79, of Mount Vernon, died Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. An open house will be held in Smith Dining Room of the Thomas Commons from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24. Arrangements are with Stewart Baxter Funeral & Memorial Services, Mount Vernon.

He is survived by his wife, Linda; daughters, Marcia (Kathryn) Peters of Lake Elmo, Minn., and Laura (Shawn) Lewis of Ames; sister, Helen Erbes of Greenfield; stepsister, Nancy (Dean) McIlravy of Norwalk; and stepbrother, Steven (Nan) Brown of Minneapolis, Minn.

Dick was born to Raymond and Doris (Denton) Peters on Jan. 7, 1939, in Greenfield, Iowa. He and Linda Lane met as children in Orient, Iowa, and were married there on June 3, 1962. Dick served his country in the U.S. Army and as an educator at Mount Vernon High School and Cornell College.

Memorial contributions can be directed to the Mount Vernon Schools Foundation.