Student, Moody Bible Institute, 1948. Bachelor of Music, American Conservatory Music, 1952. Doctor of Music (honorary), John Brown University, 1967.
Doctor of Divinity (honorary), West Baptist Seminary, 1970. Doctor of Fine Arts (honorary), Grand Canyon University, 1979.
Radio broadcaster, Station WMBI, Chicago, 1950-1955; editor in chief, president, Singspiration, Inc., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1955-1971; executive composer, Singspiration, Inc., Carefree, Arizona, 1977-1983; president, John W. Peterson Music Company, Scottsdale, Arizona, since 1983. President Good Life Prodns., Scottsdale, 1977-1983. Board directors Gospel Films, Inc., Muskegon, Michigan, Family Life Radio.
First lieutenant United States Army Air Force 1942-1945, China, Burma, India Theatre of Operations. Member American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Hump Pilots Association.
Married Marie Alta Addis (February 11, 1944). Children: Sandra Lynn Peterson Catzere, Candace Kay Peterson Strader, Pamela Lee Peterson Cruse.