Northern Mourns Trustee Ruth Peterson

It is with great sadness that we share news of the passing of our friend and long-standing trustee, Dr. Ruth Peterson.

Ruth invested her life in ministry and the service of others. Obtaining her Bachelors degree from Sioux Falls College in 1958, she followed that study with a Masters and later a Doctorate of Ministry from Northern Seminary.

In 1979 Ruth accepted the inviadmin-ajax.phptation to join Northern’s Board of Trustees and served faithfully until her recent decline in health, making her our longest serving current trustee.

Karen Walker Freeburg, Interim President, has known Ruth for many years and worked with her closely in her years as Chair of the Academic Committee:

“I keep thinking of her frank honesty, delightful laugh, and robust singing voice. Ruth loved Northern and our students. Over their decades of service, she and her husband John sent numerous graduates from the campus ministry at NIU (in DeKalb) to Northern for ministry preparation.”

Over the past ten years, Ruth and her husband, Rev. Dr. John G. Peterson, ministered as interim pastors in countless ABC congregations. Most recently, she and John have served as Interim Pastors for First Baptist Church, Belvidere, IL, ABC USA.

Through her years of faithful service, Ruth quietly modeled the equal gifting and calling of women for ministry. Dr. Walker Freeburg remembers,

“John and Ruth were pastoring an ABC congregation as interims. Ruth was preaching regularly and the community came to know her as pastor. She was out of town and a family in town called the church to inquire about a wedding. John answered the phone, and they asked about Ruth doing the ceremony. He shared that she was not going to be available, and he offered to do the ceremony. The person said in surprise, ‘Oh! I didn’t know males did this too!’”

Ruth was active in the League of Women Voters, the American Association of University Women, American Baptist Women Ministries at all levels (national, regional, area, local), and American Baptist Churches USA at all levels.

She will be remembered for the wit and wisdom she brought to the Board, and for her joy and faithfulness in service to Christ and his church, and to the students to whom so much of her ministry was devoted.

Please join us in lifting up Ruth’s family in prayer.

Service Information

Visitation: 4-7 p.m. Friday, September 18 at the Anderson Funeral Home, 2011 South Fourth Street in DeKalb.

Memorial Service: 2 p.m. Saturday, September 19 at First Baptist Church of DeKalb, 349 South Third Street.

In lieu of flowers memorial gifts may be directed to Friends of Burma, Inc. at 548 Home Avenue, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46807 ( or The Baptist Campus Ministry at 449 Normal Road, DeKalb, Illinois 60115.

Read Ruth’s full obituary here. 


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