Dennis Thor Petersen, 77, of Lynnwood, WA was born in Seattle on August 26, 1939 and passed away on July 11, 2017 from liver cancer. He lived in Seattle his entire life other than time spent commercial fishing in Alaska. After graduating from Queen Anne High School in 1957 and serving in the U. S. Coast Guard, he graduated from Central Washington University in 1963.
Dennis taught English and coached tennis and basketball at Tolt High School from 1963-65 and then joined the family businesses--Salmon Bay Oil, Inc. and Ocean Spray Fisheries, Inc.--working with his parents, Thorleif and Thelma, and older brother Ken.During the next eight years, the brothers, rotating between land and sea, together built the family's already successful heating oil company and commercial king crab fishing interests into thriving ventures.
After an early first marriage, Dennis later found his cherished true love and lifetime boating first mate, Aud I. Ostensen. They were married in 1973 and had their loving daughter, Inger, in 1974. Inger has two children, Anne-Sophia and Olden Eli. With love, Hans-Christian and Dagny Jahren in Norway adopted Anne-Sophia, joining her younger adopted brother Jin-Christian. Olden attends school in Aberdeen where he and Inger currently live.
After having served in many fisheries in all capacities, most notably fishing for king crab and tanner crab, Dennis decided he had enough of the dangerous North Pacific life aboard Bering Sea boats and opted to enter the contentious world of fisheries politics. He was elected to the Board of the North Pacific Fishing Vessel Owners Association (NPFVOA), which initially represented the interests of the Seattle-based king crab fishermen operating in the North Pacific. In 1982, he was voted president of NPFVOA's largely Norwegian membership in spite of his tortured Norwegian language skills
Dennis's strong writing, oral and interpersonal skills came into play in presenting significant NPFVOA issues to the all-important federal and state bodies managing the fish stocks in the American waters off Alaska; these were the people dictating vessel regulations and quotas. This work took him to Washington, D.C., Alaska and Olympia where he met with U.S. senators and congressmen, federal officials, governors, and state agency leaders, among others. In spite of his powerful advocacy work, it was truly a frustrating endeavor for him because the correct decisions never seemed to happen: everyone not only wanted their own " piece of the pie," but also the pieces not rightfully belonging to them.
As his NPFVOA presidency wound down, Dennis presented an idea to the Board it had never considered before--the creation of an association vessel safety program. With Board and member approval, NPFVOA sought and was awarded a three-year grant by the National Marine Fisheries Service for the program. This funding enabled NPFOVA to hire John Sabella as its first director/coordinator and his work was pivotal in making the program an on-going success. For more than three decades now, the NPFVOA Vessel Safety Program has helped save the lives of countless fishermen and received accolades from around the globe.
During the development of the vessel safety program, Dennis realized that Seattle was one of America's major fishing ports without a memorial to its fishermen. Once he brought this to the NPFVOA Board's attention, they quickly embraced and approved an organization to build one. Over the next six years, funds were raised within the fishing industry and the greater Seattle community, a design was selected, and a statue erected at the Port of Seattle's Fishermen's Terminal. Today it is a place of remembrance, offering solace to those who have lost loved ones from Seattle's commercial fishing community at sea. The NPFVOA Vessel Safety Program and the Seattle Fishermen's Memorial are Dennis's lasting legacy to an industry he loved and strived to make better.
Dennis is survived by his loving wife Aud, daughter Inger, grandchildren Anne-Sophia and Olden Eli, Ken's wife, Joan Petersen, nieces Debbie Rosenfelt (Todd) and Louise Paskovskis (Ed), nephews Ken Petersen II, and Chris Petersen, as well as numerous cousins in Norway, Canada, and U.S. Dennis's parents, Thorleif and Thelma Petersen and his older brother Ken predecease him.
A celebration of Dennis's life and his many contributions to the region's fishing industry will be held on Friday, July 28, 2017 at Ray's Boathouse, 11 am to 3 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Seattle Fishermen's Memorial http://www.seattlefishermensmemorial.org/ or ASPCA http://www.aspca.org####
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I was sad to see in today's Sunday Times of Dennis's untimely passing. But, his obituary on this website reminded me of the significant contributions he made to the fishing industry. What a great legacy for his family to be proud of. He, too, was proud of his accomplishments, but always in a humble way. Dennis and Ken were among my first clients in the fishing industry back in the early 70s. I will always remember them with fondness and respect.
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