Natural medicine group recognizes Hermiston doctor

Ken Peterson, left, holds his Living Legend award and stands alongside National College of Natural Medicine President David Schleich at a banquet in Portland on Dec. 4.

The Hermiston area claims many organic attractions, prestigious residents and a doctor who combines both as the longest-practicing naturopath in Oregon.

Two weeks ago, Kenneth D. Peterson received the inaugural Living Legend award from the National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM) and the Oregon Association of Naturopathic Medicine at a banquet in Portland.

He grew up in central Montana on a dryland wheat farm, where Peterson’s parents struggled to find health with the local doctor before turning to naturopathic methods.

The physician said that decision resulted in relief for his parents, and it left a lasting impact on his young mind.

After an honorable discharge from the military, Peterson said he started reading piles of books on medicine and set his professional sights on the practice.

In 1980, his son Kristopher joined him at the Peterson Clinic, located at 1002 W. Elm Ave. in Hermiston, where they continue practicing today.

More than five decades after seeing the construction of McNary Dam, recognizing a market for his services and moving to Umatilla County, Peterson also received the status of Honorary Alumnus from the NCNM.

He said the public’s general acceptance of natural medicine has grown tremendously in the nearly six decades he’s been practicing.

“Naturopath” used to be an alien term, Peterson said, but now it’s a common word.

According to his website, the doctor “has a great respect for the body’s natural recuperative powers” and “sees his role in health care as helping to remove the barriers to healing and providing the body with the nutrition that it needs to repair.”

In a released statement, NCNM President David Schleich praised the local physician and his peers.

“All of us are indebted to the doctors who built the tradition of natural medicine in the Northwest with quiet determination, continuously helping patients improve and maintain good health,” he said.

Retirement is not on his radar, Peterson said. A 50-year anniversary party a few years ago lent many locals to believe his time was up, but he said that was only another milestone, as is this recent award from the NCNM.

Peterson said an urge to benefit others has kept him coming to his office every day.

“I just like to help people,” he said. “That’s the driving force.”

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