Margie Petersen

Co-founder of Petersen Automotive Museum Passes

JMPR Public Relations - November 28, 2011 12:01 PM


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Margie Petersen, lifelong philanthropist, wife of the late publishing magnate Robert E. Petersen and co-founding benefactor of Southern California’s Petersen Automotive Museum, passed away peacefully at her home in Beverly Hills, California, on the evening of Nov. 25, 2011. Her passing was due to a long and valiant battle with breast cancer. She was 76.
Margie McNally Petersen was born and raised in New York and was a top professional model having appeared on hundreds of magazine covers, as well as in hundreds of TV commercials for a variety of national advertisers such as Coca-Cola and Ivory Soap. A former Miss Rheingold, Mrs. Petersen was also a television actress, as well as under contract with MGM.
She was married to Robert E. Petersen, founder and chairman of the board of Petersen Publishing Company who predeceased her in 2007. Together they were the founding benefactors of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles where she also served on the Board of Directors. Most recently, Mrs. Petersen made a gift to the Petersen Automotive Museum of their car collection, the building that houses the Museum and a monetary gift which totals $100 million.
Throughout her life, Mrs. Petersen was affiliated with numerous charitable organizations including The Amazing Blue Ribbon of the Music Center, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, The Diadames, The Los Angeles Orphanage Guild, The League for Children, Childhelp U.S.A. and was the “St. Jude Research Hospital Woman of the Year”. With her husband, she was a major donor to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles as well as to The Music Center and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
She had a great interest in interior design and was the Vice President of Petersen Interiors & Design, which was an in-house design firm for her late husband’s company where she was instrumental in furnishing the office buildings for Petersen Publishing Company. She helped design the beautiful mission style 16,000 sq. ft. building terminal building which housed Petersen Aviation at Van Nuys Airport.
Mrs. Petersen continued in her position on the Board of Directors of the Petersen Automotive Museum Foundation – an educational organization developed to support her and her husband’s educational museum, built to pay tribute to the automobile.
Today the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles stands as the nation’s premiere automotive museum, serving thousands of visitors each year. Its mission remains to educate and excite generations of auto enthusiasts with the fascinating stories, vehicles and people that have influenced the American love affair with the automobile – a mission that has been a resounding success thanks to the generosity of its main benefactor.
She and her husband were predeceased by their two sons in 1975. There are no immediate family survivors.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Petersen Automotive Museum at 6060 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036, or the charity of your choice in Mrs. Petersen’s honor