A Philanthropist and Champion for the Arts, Mental Health Research

By Johnson, Elizabeth | Sarasota Herald Tribune, January 14, 2017 | Go to article overview

A Philanthropist and Champion for the Arts, Mental Health Research


Johnson, Elizabeth, Sarasota Herald Tribune


PASQUALINA 'LEE' PETERSON: 1926-2017

SARASOTA -- Pasqualina "Lee" Peterson was a philanthropist and socialite, a champion for mental health research and the arts.

Peterson died Wednesday night following a battle with cancer. She was 90.

One of Peterson's greatest accomplishments was raising awareness for mental illness, a cause she and her late husband, Bob, took on when one of their children was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Together, the couple founded Sunshine From Darkness, hosting galas and symposiums to raise money and increase awareness around mental illness and related research. They served on the board of NARSAD, now the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. She was on the Psychiatric Advisory Board of Columbia University and director emeritus of the International Mental Health Research Organization.

"She's done so much in Sarasota, especially for mental illness, which was kind of taboo," said Margaret Wise, a friend. "Nobody spoke about it until she came."

"She was passionate about everything she did," said her daughter, Janice Peterson Radder. "Most of all, she loved her family -- my dad, especially -- and her children."

Peterson and her husband, who died in 2012, were staples at charity and cultural events after they moved to Sarasota in 1993.

They were co-presidents of the Asolo Repertory Theatre. She also served on the boards for Sarasota Opera Association, La Musica Festival and United Way Foundation. …

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