AAPS, American Association of Plastic Surgeons
AAPS, American Association of Plastic Surgeons
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Rexford Allan Peterson, M.D.

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Rexford Allan Peterson, M.D.
1922 - 2016

Rex was born, the youngest of three sons, to John Peterson and Elta McNeil Peterson in Chama, New Mexico. His father moved his family to Durango, Colorado when Rex was 2 years old so he could provide his sons with a better education. His dad was engineer on the Durango-Chama-Durango railroad route and Rex developed a life-long love for trains.

In 1942, Rex was student body President at Western State College in Gunnison, CO. At a dance, he met Dorothea Dell McCrory, during her "Senior Sneak Day" visit, and immediately said, "I'm going to marry that girl." They were wed in 1945.

During WWII, Rex served as a flight instructor in the Army Air Corps, and after the war, he and Dell returned to Western State College where Rex received the education that set him on a path of achievement as a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon in Phoenix, AZ.

He gained an international reputation as an innovative surgeon whose scientific presentations to his peers told the truth about the benefits of new procedures, as well as, possible complications. He reached the pinnacle of his field when he was elected President of The American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons and The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

An exceptional teacher, he founded and directed an accredited residency program that gave significantly more direct surgical involvement than programs offered by many very prestigious universities and clinics. Fifty-six plastic surgeons were graduated from Rex's program and they went on to practice in13 states and 3 foreign countries.

Other highlights of Rex's career include the establishment of an Arizona burn unit that is now the 2nd largest Burn Center in North America, and setting up clinics to repair cleft palates/lips on Native American Reservations in AZ and NM. His volunteer work, spanning 30 years, allowed 1000's of children to live without disfigurement.

In his personal life, Rex was a creative man full of ideas. He enjoyed designing and building two homes. He enlarged the caves on his NM property. He re-forested the Petrified Forest Ranch by planting hundreds of trees. He built a stairway into the rocks. And he purchased a pair of cabooses, converting them into cherry-paneled guesthouses complete with Victorian furnishings, providing guests with a true one of a kind experience.

The Arts were Rex's passion. While serving on the board of the Heard Museum, he was an early champion of artists Charles Loloma, Fritz Scholder, and Allan Houser before they became famous. He also admired and supported the works of artists Paul Dyck and James Turrell.

He was a wonderful chef who enjoyed perfecting recipes, in particular his signature hot fudge sauce. He took his appreciation for wine and food to another level, serving as Cellarer, then Presiding Officer of the International Wine and Food Society of Phoenix.

He loved being with his family and he delighted in all the family dogs: Chi-Chi, Tiy, Dolly and Aria. He enjoyed flying, hiking, fishing, hunting, skiing, tennis and travel and was an ardent fan of Arizona State University and University of Colorado football teams.

In late 1997, Rex and Dell retired to Santa Fe County where the door was always open for family and friends to visit, and "The Ranch" became the site of many unforgettable celebrations including Rex's legendary 4th of July fireworks displays.

He is survived by his wife of 71 years, his three daughters, Tia Peterson, Marta Peterson, Lisa FitzGerald, and his son-in-law, Dan FitzGerald.

Linda Phillips, M.D.

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