Sarasota philanthropists J. Robert “Bob” Peterson and Pasqualina “Lee” Peterson have donated $4 million to New College of Florida through a bequest gift from their estate. It is the largest gift in New College’s 61-year history.
The Petersons previously made significant gifts to New College, and the Lee & Bob Peterson Residence Hall on campus is named in their honor. Bob Peterson spent many years serving on the New College Board of Trustees. Funds from the gift will likely be used to support New College students, endowment, and other critical elements of the college, as per the wishes of the Peterson family.
Bob Peterson was a Navy veteran of World War II and the Korean War, who spent 33 years with the United Parcel Service, ultimately becoming senior vice president and general counsel. Lee Peterson was a trained opera singer who performed with the Amato Opera and After Dinner Opera companies in New York. The two were married for 58 years; Bob Peterson passed away in 2012 at age 88 and Lee Peterson
followed in 2017 at age 90.
The Petersons founded Sunshine From Darkness, hosting symposiums to increase awareness around mental illness. They also served on the board of National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD), which is now the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. Additionally, the couple was co-presidents of the Asolo Repertory Theatre. Lee Peterson also served on the boards of the Sarasota Opera Association, La Musica Festival and the United Way Foundation.