Jim Petersen (1932 – 2022)

Jim Petersen was known as a great father, friend, and husband. He believed that life’s meaning was in relationships, and he applied that principle in his work and family life.

Jim served as an international vice president of The Navigators for seventeen years. Prior to that he worked in several Brazilian cities, where he and his wife of fifty-eight years, Marge, raised their four children. Together they moved to Brazil in 1963 during a military coup when their daughter, Michelle, was age two and when Marge was six months pregnant with their son, Todd. Their twin daughters, Raquel and Rochelle, were also born in Brazil.

Jim and Marge never separated family life from their involvement with Brazilians. They made their house and family the platform for serving hundreds of people. They all engrossed themselves in the Brazilian culture—Jim spoke flawless Portuguese—and built lasting personal relationships. Jim, Marge, and their children thus demonstrated a family-based expression of what it means to be “church.”

Upon returning to the United States in 1985, Jim was invited by many people in every corner of the world to help them authentically express faith in God without any religious structures or organization. During those long trips, he formed lasting friendships with people in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Latin America. Jim also wrote numerous books.

An avid hunter and fisherman who grew up in Minnesota, Jim led annual salmon fishing trips with close friends to Alaska. During these trips, he and his friends would haul king salmon out of the river while keeping a watchful eye on nearby grizzly bears. He and his younger brother, Tom Petersen, had a deep and profound love for one another. They often returned from hunting trips with a massive bull elk. His barbeque grill was, therefore, constantly aflame, including in blizzards, as he served incredible meals to neighbors, friends, international visitors, and family.

Music, especially Jazz, filled his home all the time, morning to night. He and his close friend, Jake Barnett would often hunt for abstract art in places like Santa Fe, New Mexico. For Jim and his family, aesthetic beauty in music and art was spiritually meaningful, a reflection of how God glorified himself through his creation.

After Marge died in 2012, Jim married Georgette Smith, in 2015. They served many people in Colorado Springs together right until Jim’s death.

Jim is survived by Georgette (Smith) Petersen and his four children, Michelle McMahan (husband Glenn), Todd Petersen (wife Marta), Raquel Petersen-Seal (husband Sam), and Rochelle Raimao (husband Miguel). He has ten grandchildren: Connor and Thomas McMahan; Nicolas and David Petersen; Nadja De Sá and Matias Raimao; Vienna Petersen-Seal, and her triplet brothers, Ben, Bodi, and Beck Petersen-Seal. His living siblings are Ruth Valesano, Esther Otto, Lois Winslow, and Tom Petersen. He is also survived by Georgette’s children, Michelle, Melody, and Asher, along with their children.

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