Peter Carl Sederberg

SederbergPeter Carl Sederberg, 77, on July 31, 2020, from complications of Alzheimer’s disease, peacefully, surrounded by his loving family, in Atlanta, Ga. Born in 1943 in Minneapolis, Minn., Peter and his older sister, Kathryn Marie, were raised by their mother, Gertrude Helen Pontius Sederberg, after their father, Carl Ellsworth Sederberg, passed away when Peter was two years old. Peter would often tell stories of their loving family life in their little house despite the hard times.

Following graduation from DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis in 1961, Peter attended the University of Minnesota, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1965. He completed his doctorate in political science at Johns Hopkins University in 1970. Peter traveled to Ghana with his first wife, Nancy Belcher Sederberg, to conduct research for his dissertation. After sharing transatlantic journeys, cross-country moves, the purchase of their family home, and the birth of their son, Per, in 1974, Peter and Nancy separated in 1981. Together they demonstrated that care and friendship were still possible in divorce as they prioritized the health and happiness of their child.

After two years at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Mass., from 1969 to 1971, Peter found a more permanent home in the Government and International Studies Department at the University of South Carolina. Peter helped foster the creation and growth of the Honors College, which would define his career and legacy. He became dean in 1994 and served in that capacity until 2005. Under his deanship, the South Carolina Honors College would become the highest ranked public honors college in the country.

Peter’s scholarly works reflected his interest in political philosophy and violence, especially The Politics of Meaning: Power and Explanation in the Construction of Social Reality (1984); Terrorist Myths: Illusion, Rhetoric, and Reality (1989); and Fires Within: Political Violence and Revolutionary Change (1994).

Peter met Janice Love in 1982. Jan had just arrived as a new professor in the Government and International Studies Department. They married in 1984. Their daughter, Rachel, was born in 1987. Peter and Janice modeled for their children the deep passion of a loving and equal partnership.

Peter was devoted to his two children. He made them feel like the center of his universe. During their respective childhoods (which were 13 years apart), he spent countless hours reading to each at bedtime. He made them feel safe and cared for during challenging times, including Rachel’s long illness in early adolescence.

Peter and Jan’s sharp minds complemented one another, and they collaborated on professional and intellectual endeavors. They maintained their strong bond over long distances, as Jan’s work took her around the world, eventually to be dean of Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. Having retired from the University of South Carolina, Peter became the provost’s special assistant for undergraduate educational initiatives at Emory.

A colleague at the University of South Carolina introduced Peter to Quakerism. He began attending Columbia (S.C.) Meeting in 1983. He was an active member, teaching First-day school. After moving to Atlanta in 2008, Peter began attending Atlanta Meeting and transferred his membership in 2011. He was treasurer of Atlanta Meeting for many years and a member of the Finance Committee.

Peter was a lifetime champion for peace. He attended marches in Washington, D.C., and organized protests in Columbia, S.C. After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, he was a steady presence at weekly peace vigils at the South Carolina state capitol building.

Peter is survived by his wife, Jan Love; two children, Per Benjamin Sederberg (Laurel Megan Feigley) and Rachel Elin Love; and two grandchildren.

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