A life remembered: Harold Petersen

Murdock farmer Harold Petersen, a former director with the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC), died Oct. 25 at the age of 81.

He lived his entire life on the same farm in Louriston Township until the family moved to Willmar in 2019. Petersen started farming in 1961 and retired in 2010. He served on numerous boards and committees including Chippewa County Farm Bureau, serving on the Minnesota Farm Bureau Board of Directors from 1969-1981, also serving on the Farm Bureau Life and Mutual Insurance Company Board during that time. He served as Louriston Township treasurer and was a Council director from 1987-1990. He was also a board member and chairman of Red River Valley Insurance Pool, and was a member of the International Sugarbeet Institute committee. Harold was chairman and board member of West Central Experiment Station Advisory Committee in Morris.

“He engaged in everything local and all things that went on community-wise and agriculture-wise in Chippewa and Swift County area,” said Mike Yost, who farmed just down the road from Petersen and knew him for decades. “He was clearly a leader in farming and agriculturist through and through.”

The late Harold Petersen served as a Council director from 1987-1990, just before the national soy checkoff program was implemented.

As a founding member of the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative, Petersen served as chairman, and was on the board of directors as well as on the board of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association and United Sugars and Midwest Agri Commodities. In 2001, he was appointed to the Minnesota State Farm Service Agency Committee by the George W. Bush administration. Even after retirement, Harold enjoyed nothing more than visiting the family farm to see his passion continue with his children and grandsons carrying on his love for farming.

“Harold was a really progressive farmer, very successful,” said former Council Director Mike O’Leary, who farmed about 20 miles from Petersen. “He was also very active in politics and the farm economy.”

Harold and Sharon were married for 62 years. For 16 winters, they escaped the snow to Palm Desert, Calif., and traveled to all 50 states as well as many foreign countries. Harold is survived by his wife, Sharon; children and their families.

“Harold was very well-respected and a mentor to many of us,” Yost said.

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