Leonard S. Petersen

January 6, 1936July 10, 2018
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Leonard S. Petersen was born on January 6, 1936 in Santa Barbara, Califonia and passed away on July 10, 2018 in Atherton , California


  • Cathie Petersen, Loving wife of 31 years
  • Elaine Loza, Daughter- Granite Bay, California
  • Gary Loza, Son-in-law
  • Neal Petersen, Son- Nevada City, California
  • Aman Petersen, Daughter-in-law
  • Doug Petersen, Son- Santa Maria, California
  • Fred Petersen, Son- Redwood City, California
  • Monika Petersen, Daughter-in-law
  • Shannon Lantis, Step-Daughter- San Mateo, California
  • Keith Rypka, Grandson
  • Daniel Petersen, Grandson
  • Greg Petersen, Grandson
  • Melissa Loza, Granddaughter
  • Abby Petersen, Granddaughter
  • Rumi Petersen, Granddaughter


  • Memorial Service Saturday, July 21, 2018

Leonard S. Petersen

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craig and mary jane filice

July 23, 2018

We first met Leonard at Thunderbird Country Club in the Desert and spent many evenings with him over the years. Leonard had a great demeanor, always wanting to connect with people - even those he didn't know well. He seemed to really enjoy social contact, stories, laughter and a great meal. We were both impressed early on with Leonard's incredible memory. He could remember the little things that most would miss and then recall them long afterward. What an intellect! We also shared a passion for mechanical things, cars, airplanes - often sharing stories about flying or fixing something. When it came to mechanical things, Leonard was the real deal. We are both saddened with the loss of Leonard, he added a dimension to our lives that will be sorely missed. Rest in Peace, Leonard.
Mary Jane and Craig Filice



Leonard S. Petersen was a natural leader whose winning presence allowed him to take control of various situations with ease. Equipped with a clear and calculating focus, he possessed a tough-minded, “take charge” attitude. He had the ability to make even routine situations seem exciting, and he was at ease with the role of playing problem solver. Leonard always sought out the scene of where the action was. Sociable, analytical and pleasant, Leonard was an individual who enjoyed life’s challenges.

Leonard was born on January 6, 1936 at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, California. His parents were Leonard Sr. and Estelle Petersen. Leonard was raised in Santa Maria, California. Always able to express himself well, Leonard possessed strong interpersonal skills. He was optimistic in his outlook on life and was able at all times to be open and direct in his communication. Armed with a great wit, Leonard was raised to be accepting of others and to implement a strong personal work ethic.

Blessed with a balanced attitude, Leonard was able to relate well with others. His occasional role as family mediator gave him the opportunity to ease tense situations when they occurred. Leonard was raised with one sister. He had Nancy Keller. Leonard had a strong desire to be treated fairly and would readily offer others the same fairness in return.

As a young child, Leonard showed his creative ability in many ways. He was outgoing and animated. Leonard enjoyed new activities and pursued a variety of interests. He took part in track and he was also a Junior Statesmen of America while in high school. In his spare time he liked working on hot rods as well and drag racing every Saturday.

Known to others as a focused, logical, open-minded and somewhat driven individual, Leonard was able to utilize these qualities to succeed in high school. His curious nature was spurred by his ability to maximize his personal learning style through employing a hands-on approach. He was good with facts and had an excellent memory. He graduated from Santa Maria High School in 1953. He enjoyed some courses more than others, having favorite classes and teachers.

When the goal of college was in sight, it became important to Leonard. Again, his direct, “down to earth” approach served him well. He was able to absorb complex concepts and had an acute sense of how things worked. He earned his Bachelor Degree in Engineering in 1957.

On May 1, 1987 Leonard exchanged wedding vows with Cathie Merchant at the Chapel in Lake Tahoe of Lake Tahoe, California. Leonard was attentive to Cathie his first marriage was with his high school sweetheart, Patricia Pabst in 1956 whom he had four children with. A good listener with an engaging personality, Leonard was able to bring pleasure and unexpected humor to the relationship.

Very much like a kid himself, Leonard identified with the inquisitive and creative side of his children’s personalities. He was able to direct his energy and spontaneity towards helping his children acquire added common sense skills. Leonard was blessed with four children and one step daughter. His daughter, Elaine and three sons, Neal, Doug, and Fred. As well as a step-daughter, Shannon. They were also blessed with six grandchildren, Keith, Daniel, Greg, Melissa, Abby, and Rumi.

Leonard was a flexible worker who was able to draw the best from others around him. A persuasive individual who was quick to make necessary decisions, Leonard’s strengths included being able to think on his feet. He could be a leader who sought impact for his decisions. Gifted with an incredible ability to read body language, Leonard was able to positively manipulate situations and motivate others in order to get a task completed. He was a good negotiator who enjoyed new challenges. Leonard could multi-task, and he was endowed with entrepreneurial spirit, allowing him to think beyond standard norms when it came to resolving issues in his work environment. His primary occupation was mechanical engineer. He was a business owner in Petersen Precision Manufacturing in Redwood City for 52 years in June 2018.

Leonard enjoyed his leisure time by taking part in various hobbies. He had something of an artistic flair in many of the things that he did. He put this creativity toward all of his pastimes. His favorite pursuits were cooking. Leonard was a great cook and would plan meals early in the day. It was not unusual to see him start a soup first thing in the morning. Leonard enjoyed people from all walks of life. He was always interested in everyone around him. Leonard did not throw things away without 1st investigating the reason they no longer worked. He enjoyed fixing things. He also restored antique cars with his father Leonard Sr. A 1928 Packard, 1911 Cadillac and 1914 Harley Davidson. He was content to enjoy his hobbies alone but was also willing to share his interests with others.

Because he liked to take risks, Leonard was a perfect match for athletics and exercise. He was enthusiastic and confident about these activities. Leonard was also something of a sports fan and enjoyed watching his favorite events whenever he got the opportunity. Tops on his list were tennis, football, basketball, and baseball. He even started watching golf with his friends at Thunderbird Country Club.

Travel and vacations were experiences that Leonard truly enjoyed. He preferred to seek out excitement wherever he went and he was partial to vacations that were casual and laid back with an atmosphere of “live and let live.” He was willing to leave his plans open and flexible, just in case something more interesting came along. Favorite vacations included Houseboat trips on Shasta. In the early 80's Leonard flew his sons on fishing adventures in remote areas of Canada. He enjoyed the adventure of flying fishing and boating with his family and friends. He also enjoyed numerous cruises, Mediterranean, Baltic, Tahiti, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Leonard was a lover of animals and cherished his pets. One of Leonard’s favorites was Benny, a 3 1/2 year old Malti Poo. Leonard spent his mornings with Benny while in the desert during the Winter months. Benny was adopted at 3 months old. They were best friends for 3 1/2 years. His family was rounded out by his two wonderful Rottweilers, Avy and King that provided great family bonding.

Leonard never fully retired. Even after removing his physical presence he was on the phone as a problem solver until the end of his life. Leonard spent half year in Rancho Mirage over the past 11 years enjoying both Sunrise and Thunderbird Country Clubs, he was well prepared. He used logical analysis of his retirement options in order to ensure his retirement would be fulfilling. Still, he was able to easily adapt to possible changes and enjoyed just having fun and being relaxed. In retirement, he found new pleasure in the Men's Locker Room at Thunderbird Country Club. He made many wonderful friends and was very fond of the staff that took such good care of him. He participated daily in the card games competing with the best. He also enjoyed the dining room at Sunrise Country Club where he resided half of the past 11 years. They provided wonderful food, service, and friendship.

Leonard passed away on July 10, 2018 at home in Atherton, California. Leonard fought a brave battle against cancer. He is survived by his wife, Cathie, his children Elaine, Neal, Doug, Fred, Stepdaughter Shannon, his grandchildren, Keith, Daniel, Melissa, Greg, Abby, and Rumi. Services were held at Redwood Chapel.

Leonard was the kind of person who could win others over easily. A concrete communicator, he relied on his senses to increase his involvement and awareness of others. He was always able to provide amusing repartee to his friends and acquaintances, offering a seemingly endless supply of quips, anecdotes, jokes and stories. If Leonard had a theme song written about him, it might well have been “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” He enjoyed his life and the experience of living it. This is how everyone will remember Leonard S. Petersen.