Roland Olaf Peterson

Roland Olaf Peterson, 96, of Waltham, Mass., passed away peacefully at home with his family on Jan. 18, 2024, following an illness. 

Born on Sept. 30, 1927, in Riverhead, N.Y., to Dorothy (Barner) and Harold Peterson, Roland grew up on Long Island. He graduated from Riverhead High School in 1945, where he played baritone horn in the marching band and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in Boy Scouts. Roland later completed his BEE at Cornell University. He served honorably in the U.S. Navy as an Electronics Technician (ETM2). 

In 1950, Roland married former high school classmate Sarah Ann Wells. They had one son together before she died in the aftermath of a car accident in 1954. In the mid-1960s, Roland met Lois Polley, the woman whom he would thereafter call his “honey bunch.” They married in 1966 at Beth Eden Baptist Church in Waltham, and together shepherded three children through college. 

In addition to his military service, Roland researched transistors and worked as an electrical engineer in the defense industry for companies such as Grumman, Harris Corporation, General Dynamics Electric Boat and Raytheon. His expertise eventually led to helping program the guidance module for the Patriot missile defense system.

He loved the outdoors, hiked and walked regularly, even into his final year, and volunteered with the Boy Scouts. As an active member of First Parish in Waltham, he served in many roles, including the pastoral selection and community action committees, as well as representing First Parish at the General Assembly. 

He is survived by his son, Dr. Thomas T. Peterson (Greeley, Colo.) and his wife, Dorothy (Patrick), their five children, Jessica, Andrew, Matthew, Sarah and Karen, and their five grandchildren, Vincent, Ania, Sylvia, Elora and Roland; his daughter, Beth P. Peterson (Waltham, Mass.) and daughter Beatrice Stefan; his son, Erik O. Peterson (Windham, N.H.) and his wife, Bushra Zawaydeh, and their three children, Laura, Adelina and George; his son, Joshua Peterson (Hollis, N.H.) and his wife, Juili (Lin), and their daughters, Danielle and Lydia; as well as numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. 

A devoted friend, Roland carried on friendships and correspondences with many he had met throughout his life, from his lifelong friend, the late Gilbert Stubbs; to those he had met through church; as well as those he had mentored. 

He was predeceased by his parents; his brother, David Peterson (Melbourne, Fla.); his first wife, Sarah; and his second wife, Lois. 

A celebration of life has been planned for 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, at First Parish Church in Waltham. 

In honor of his love of the outdoors and military service, donations in Roland’s memory may be made to Ducks Unlimited or Wounded Warrior Project. At Roland’s request, his body has been donated to the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School ( for the advancement of science. 

This is a paid notice.