Harold A. Peterson III, retired president and chief executive officer of Community Hospice, has been named the 2015 Modesto Junior College Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. Peterson was honored by the college and MJC Foundation at the MJC Commencement Ceremony on May 1.
After graduating from Sonora Union High School in 1964, Peterson left home to attend
Modesto Junior College. After only a year he was drafted into the United States Army.
He spent the next three years serving in the military, graduating from the Officer
Candidate School in Ft. Belvoir, Virginia. He spent two years on tours to Korea and
Peterson returned to MJC in 1969 with a new appreciation for obtaining a college education. He also worked full time, got married and restarted his life. His initial goal was to get an Associate’s degree and move on but quickly found that MJC offered much more. He took several classes that were specific to his distribution and transportation career. He completed his Associate of Arts Degree and went on to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco.
Following his college career, Peterson began working for a Fortune 500 food manufacturing company, Tri-Valley Growers, and stayed there 23 years, holding positions from front line supervisor to the senior vice president of distribution for the final seven years.
From 1995 to June, 2013, Peterson served as the president/CEO of Community Hospice, Inc. The Medicare certified hospice is a stand-alone non-profit organization headquartered in Modesto with a branch office in Stockton and a 16-bed inpatient facility, the Alexander Cohen Hospice House, located in Hughson. Peterson’s leadership guided Community Hospice in providing compassionate care to over 1,800 patients annually and 260 patients on a daily basis.
Before retiring in 2013, he had a history of active involvement in the community including 20 years as a member of Modesto Rotary, a member of the Palliative Care Association Board of Directors, past chairman of the Tri Valley Credit Union and a 1990 graduate of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce Leadership Modesto program, to name just a few.
Peterson has been acknowledged for his community service and volunteerism, receiving the American Legion Citizen of the Year in 2013, Hughson Business Man of the Year in 2008, the J.C. Penney Golden Rule Award in 1995 and the United Way President’s Award in 1994. He is a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War.
He and his wife Kathy have three grown sons and five grandchildren. They live in Modesto, and enjoy playing golf and traveling in their motor home to visit family and friends.
Over the years Peterson has become a life-long learner, continuing his education at MJC by enrolling in computer courses and photography classes and, more recently, taking a community education course on how to fully utilize his cell phone. So even at age 68 he remains an MJC Student!