Bill Peterson grew up in Vermilion and at an early age came to love learning about history particularly South Dakota history. The story of Lewis and Clark and their visit to Spirit Mound on their journey up the Missouri brought history alive to Bill as he visited Spirit Mound many times as a boy. He remembers standing on the Mound looking out at the surrounding lands and trying to imagine how Lewis and Clark must have seen it. That lead to his lifelong love and study of history.
Bill is a former majority leader (2001-2005) of the South Dakota House of Representatives (1997-2005) and has advocated for businesses and nonprofits in the U.S. Congress and multiple state legislatures.
He was a delegate from South Dakota to two National Republican Conventions (2000 and 2008). In 2008, he served on the National Republican Platform Committee.
He is a past chair of the Board of Directors for Family Services Inc.; Kilian Community College and Downtown Sioux Falls Association; was Co-Chair of Citizens for a Modern City Government which led the successful effort to change the form of Sioux Falls city government from a 5-member commission to a charter government with a full-time mayor and broad-based city council.
Bill chaired two South Dakota Republican Party Conventions. He is the past Chair of the Sioux Council Boy Scouts of America Board and is the recipient of the Silver Beaver Award which is the highest award that a local council can award for outstanding service to scouting.
Bill served on the South Dakota Historical Society Board of Directors from 2002-2012, was chair of the Board from 2005-2012, interim president in 2012, and served on the oral history task force.
He most recently served as vice president of development at Lutheran Social Services and was a lobbyist for Frederikson & Byron, a Twin Cities law firm.
He is married to Sue and has three sons: Lucas, Robert (past SDHSF board member), and William.