One of his father’s great passions, Tom explained, was being a member of the Malverne Fire Department. He joined it in 1964, and remained a member until his death. He was a firefighter for many years, Tom said, and was fire chief from 1977 to 1979. He won the Fireman of the Year award in 1968 and 1987.
Many in the community, including Mayor Patricia McDonald, recognized Petersen for his dedication and activism. McDonald described him as being “instrumental in the way [the] village ran.”
“It’s extremely sad,” McDonald said at last week’s Board of Trustees meeting. “He was a fixture here in the village, a fixture at the Fire Department. He was just, just a very special individual. I want to send out our prayer, love and sympathy to his family.”
Former Fire Chief Dave Weinstein, a longtime resident who was recently recognized for 50 years of service in the department, said he knew Petersen for years, and that he served the department for 48 years. “He really worked his way up to the top, and he served as a warden for us, too,” Weinstein said. “It brings tears to my eyes — he loved his family, his Fire Department, his business. He was a wonderful person, a wonderful father, husband and a dedicated firefighter.”
Petersen took great pride in serving his community, Weinstein said, and always tried to help Malvernites any way he could. He was, Weinstein said, a loyal and trustworthy friend who genuinely cared for others.
“I miss him — you could talk to him, confide in him,” he recalled. “He was always willing to lend a helping hand. He meant it. It wasn’t something he’d just say. I think he’ll always be remembered — as a store owner, a fire chief, a servant of the community.”
Friends and family members said that he will always be remembered for his compassion, his selflessness and his willingness to make a difference. “I can’t think of any other person in Malverne who would be more missed then my dad,” Tom said. “He was pretty loved. And he loved life with open arms.”
A wake was held on Aug. 4 and 5 at Flinch and Bruns Funeral Home in Lynbrook. A funeral mass took place on Monday at Our Lady of Lourdes Church.