Born: No­vem­ber 1, 1921, Linds­borg, Kan­sas.

Died: Sep­tem­ber 20, 2006, Scotts­dale, Ari­zo­na.

Buried: Pa­ra­dise Me­mo­ri­al Gar­dens, Scotts­dale, Ari­zo­na.

Pseudonym: John Will­ard.


Of Swed­ish lin­eage, John was the son of Pe­ter Eph­ra­im Pe­ter­son and Ma­ry Ade­line Nel­son, and hus­band of Ma­rie Ad­dis (mar­ried Feb­ru­ary 1944).

He lost his fa­ther at age four, and came to Christ age 12. He dis­played a mu­sic­al gift ear­ly, writ­ing his first song while a sen­ior in high school.

In World II, he served in the Ar­my Air Corps, fly­ing the Him­a­lay­an sup­ply route to Chi­na.

After the war, he at­tend­ed Moo­dy Bi­ble In­sti­tute and the Am­eri­can Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic in Chi­ca­go, Il­li­nois (gra­du­at­ed 1953).

In 1954, he went to work for the Sing­spi­ra­tion Mu­sic Com­pa­ny in Mont­rose, Penn­syl­van­ia.

When Zon­der­van Pub­lish­ing House bought Sing­spi­ra­tion in 1963, Pe­ter­son moved to Grand Ra­pids, Mi­chi­gan, where he was pre­si­dent and ed­it­or-in-chief for ov­er a de­cade.

Later in life, Pe­terson served on the board of Gos­pel Films, Inc., Mus­ke­gon, Mi­chi­gan. After mov­ing to Scotts­dale, Ari­zo­na, he co-found­ed Good Life Pro­duct­ions and was on the board of Fa­mi­ly Life Ra­dio Net­work in Tuc­son, Ari­zo­na.

He was ad­mit­ted to the Gos­pel Mu­sic Hall of Fame in 1986.