Life Story: Dr. James Peterson, 74; Orthodontist

Dr. James (Jim) Peterson, age 74, died peacefully after a valiant five-year battle with cancer on January 14 at his home in Somerset, surrounded by his loving family.

Born in Elmwood Park, a son of Helen Valenti, of Elmwood Park, and the late James Peterson, Jim earned his B.S. degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and his doctorate degree in dental surgery from Fairleigh Dickinson University School of Dentistry in Hackensack. He was elected to the Psi Psi Chapter of Omicron Kappa Upsilon Honorary Dental Society and was the recipient of the prestigious Sigma Epsilon Delta Dental Fraternity Award for excellence in clinical operative dentistry.

Following his formal education, Jim married the love of his life, Marlene, 49 years ago in Verona. They moved to Long Beach, CA., where he served active duty as a Lieutenant in the Naval Dental Corps at the Naval Station for 2 years. Upon their return to New Jersey, Jim attended Fairleigh Dickinson School of Orthodontics, and they settled down in Westfield, where they raised their daughter Kristen, and where Jim opened his Orthodontics practice, bringing amazing smiles to his patients for 40 years.

With a seemingly endless supply of stories to tell for the enjoyment of friends and family, Jim loved to entertain whether hosting at his home in Westfield or arranging dinner trips into the city. And embarking on – and reliving – family trips to Italy and all across the Caribbean was a favorite pastime. He also enjoyed skiing and fishing and was an avid Porsche enthusiast on and off the track.

But Jim’s true passion was reserved for the women in his life. He was a devoted husband to Marlene and father to Kristen, and loved nothing more than spending time and sharing laughs with his granddaughters, Chloe and Ella.

Jim is survived by his loving wife, Marlene, daughter, Kristen, son-in-law, Brady, and his loving granddaughters, Chloe and Ella, his brother, Alan Peterson, and his mother.

The family is holding private funeral services and will plan a memorial celebration of Jim’s life with friends at a future date post Covid-19. Those desiring may make a memorial contribution in Jim’s honor to the American Cancer Society for cancer research.

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