William D. Petersen Fund for Medical Care of the Needy


Mr. Petersen left a legacy for our community when he died in 1928. He left two charitable trusts in the care of private trusts. In 1992, two Field of Interest Funds, the William D. Petersen Fund for the Medical Care of the Needy and the William D. Petersen Fund for Needy Children, were endowed with the Community Foundation. Mr. Petersen was a public spirited, influential citizen of Davenport during the last half of the 19th century.

He gave many years of his life to the great work of reclaiming the Davenport riverfront-turning it from an unsightly garbage dump into a place of beauty and usefulness, with a park, a music pavilion, and a valuable industrial acreage. The beautiful pavilion, a memorial to his daughter Wilma, was presented to the city. Hugh Harrison, City Editor of the Davenport Democrat in 1919, wrote a book entitled W. D. Petersen, Father of the Davenport Levee. Mr. Harrison said of him, “He thought of his home city as part of himself. What he wanted for himself, he wanted for his fellow citizens.”

For a quarter of a century Mr. Petersen was a dominant influence in the firm of J. H. C. Petersen’s, Petersen’s department store. However, there is much more to the character of Mr. Petersen than merchandising ability and public service.

The legacy of a little American boy who started out in life with old-fashioned ideas of honesty, industry, and thrift, didn’t wander from them. His Endowed Field of Interest Funds continue to give back to the community he loved. Annually money is distributed by the Community Foundation to support those in need. 


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