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Obituary for Thomas ‘Thom’ H. Petersen

December 2, 1945 – June 25, 2023

Thomas “Thom” H. Petersen, 77, passed away peacefully in his sleep at his residence early on Sunday, June 25, following a relatively short, intense battle with pancreatic cancer. He was born in Racine on Dec. 2, 1945, the son of the late Harry and Esther (nee: Ziemke) Petersen. On June 30, 1973, he was united in marriage to the love of his life, Doreen “Dorie” Van Koningsveld.

Thomas “Thom” H. Petersen
Thomas “Thom” H. Petersen

Thom was an accomplished artist, working at Unico Inc. in advertising for over 30 years. A self-taught airbrush artist, he became internationally known for his automotive fine art. Thom was a contributing artist to the many juried art exhibitions at the Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Art, having two pieces in their permanent collection. Thom was featured in exhibitions at the Anderson Art Center in Kenosha, the Kohler Art Center, many private and corporate collections, numerous commissioned works, as well as on the covers of various magazines.

Thom was active with the Racine Art Guild and was a part of the Wednesday Morning “Geezers” Art Group. He filmed and produced many shows for the Community Access Racine TV Station (Car 25) such as “Uncle Thom’s Kitchen,” “Way Out Willards Wild World of Motor Sports,” plus many public interest stories of people and events around Racine, and the church services of Racine Bible Church.

Besides his interests in the art world, Thom also had an avid interest in the history of Racine and the whole realm of classic and custom cars, contributing often to various Facebook groups.

Thom loved exploring or “galavanting” as he would say, taking thousands of pictures as he went. He was proud of his garden, including his “Petie’s Pepper Plaza” and could often be found sitting in the evening by his chiminea listening to his own unique musical arrangements.

Above all else, Thom loved his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In 1970 he saw that the life he was living was lacking direction and the deep, abiding joy that he had learned of in his Lutheran upbringing. He found it in a personal relationship with God that forever changed his focus. His chief aim was to share the love and forgiveness that he had found in Christ with anyone and everyone with whom he came in contact in a gentle, compassionate way using his various activities and contacts as a door to be opened to deeper conversations that could ultimately lead others to the One who gave his life meaning.

Growing out of that foundation was the happiness and stability he found in his family. He loved his girls with a combination of humor, imagination (leading to crazy family antics), concern, loyalty, acceptance, protection and support through all the various ups and downs of daily life. Grandchildren added a level of soaring joy he never dreamed possible.

Surviving are his loving wife of 50 years, Doreen “Dorie” Petersen; their children, Miriam (Dan) Fredericks, of Lansdale, Pa., Esther (Aaron) Daugherty, of Spokane Valley, Wash., and Phoebe (Sam) Discher, of Racine; beloved grandchildren, Josh and Eden Fredericks, Malachi, Josiah, and Kaylee Daugherty, Isabella, Genevieve, Aria, and Wesley Discher; his “brother,” (cousin) Terry (Juliann) Dennis, of Lake City, Minn., and sister, Patricia (Clint) Sawinski, of Minnetonka, Minn., as well as numerous nieces and nephews.


A celebration of his life will be held at the Racine Bible Church, 12505 Spring St., Sturtevant, on Sunday, July 2 at 3 p.m. Visitation will be from 1:30 until the time of the service.

Obituary and photo courtesy of Draeger-Langendorf Funeral Home.

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