Former Police Chief & Mayor, Ralph Petersen, dies at 81 - NBC40.net

Former Police Chief & Mayor, Ralph Petersen, dies at 81

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Ask ten people from Pleasantville and you’ll hear ten different ways Ralph Peterson left his mark on the city he loved and its people.

"I would probably call him the Godfather of Pleasantville,” said Linda Peyton, Pleasantville business administrator and Peterson’s former aide.

"He coined the phrase, 'city on the move.' He was the first African American Chief of Police, first African American Mayor,” rattled off Mayor Jesse Tweedle.

Friends said the former boxer was stern but fair and nor afraid to speak his mind.

"You didn't have to guess as to what he would want or what was on his mind because he was very forward and transparent about the things that he wanted to do see accomplished and what was on his mind,” said Peyton.

"He was a very powerful person so when he spoke, things happened,” said Tweedle.

He did have a soft spot though, the young people of the community.

"First and foremost he was committed to the youth in this area,” said Chief of Police Jose Ruiz, who was hired by Peterson in 1983. “Back in the 70s he started Pete's Boys, and it was a way that he felt he could commit himself to the city to keep the kids off the street and have them doing something positive."

In 2007 the New Hope Community Center was dedicated in his honor, and stands as a lasting reminder of his commitment to the city of Pleasantville.

"That type of commitment is not something that's taught. It's something intrinsic,” said Mayor Tweedle.

"To tell you all of his accomplishments I don't think we'd have enough tape,” said Ruiz.

Even after his recent passing, it’s a commitment that continues through the scholarship program he founded.

"The day before his passing he signed off on 6 of the scholarship awards for the recipients of Pleasantville," explained Peyton.

While his time on Earth is over, those who knew him say he’ll never really be gone.

"He left something behind. He gave us something to hold onto. He gave us a vision. So we haven't lost anything. We've gained something,” said Tweedle.

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