Thursday, December 6, 2012

New York Times Reporter, Iver Peterson, Helped Bring Awareness to Plight of the SS United States

By Robert Hudson Westover

I so clearly remember the day I met Iver Peterson. How could I forget when it was in front of the great SS United States! Filled with the excitement of touring through the interior of the massive ocean-liner, we behaved like school boys peering down dark passageways and staring into the cavernous space that is the forward engine room of the storied vessel.

Iver was interested in writing a story about the plight of the ship and the nascent organization I was forming to save her. I didn't know it at the time but Iver's story Group Battles to Save Luxury Liner Big U, and Glory of Its Day published on Easter Sunday in the entire New York Times syndicate, would bring my fledgling organization, the SS United States Foundation, into national prominence and launch a worldwide effort to Save the United States.

His story was (and is) invaluable to the still ongoing effort to Save the United States. And his subsequent follow up stories kept the flame alive for many years.

Iver had a passion for the Big U because as a child he sailed on her many times. His parents were a Washington, DC power couple and in his dining room a picture of his  famous mother, Ester Peterson, riding shotgun next to President Lyndon Johnson in his convertible Lincoln Continental said it all.

No doubt the SS United States held such fond memories for Iver simply for the fact that on this ship, for a few days as it crossed the Atlantic, he could have an adventure with his family.

When it became obvious that the direction to change tactics for preserving the former national flagship, Iver said to me at Christmas party in his home, "Robert, you are a puritan...and I respect that but you're going to have to consider alternatives."

He was right.

In the end, I would turn over the Foundation to others and Iver would never pen another story about the fabled ship.

It was time for a new direction on the path that we puritan preservationists had forged.

Iver died August 1, 2012. Sadly, I just discovered his obituary in the online edition of the newspaper he wrote for The New York Times.

Sail on Iver. Sail on...

For more information about helping the effort to Save the United States go to the SS United States Conservancy. #ssunitedstates #savetheunitedstates 

This was the first New York Times story (releases across the newspaper's entire syndicate)about the SS United States since 1969 and with a readership of over 25 million (including The Dallas Morning News, The Boston Globe and the International Herald Tribune) it brought world attention to the plight of the great vessel.

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