Esther E. Peterson, a pioneering advocate of worker and consumer rights in three presidential administrations, died Saturday at her Washington home. She was 91.
During her career, she pioneered in pressing the food and grocery industries to include unit pricing, more inclusive lists of ingredients and freshness dating, a son, Iver Peterson, noted.
Mrs. Peterson, a native of Provo, Utah, was an official of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union and the AFL-CIO before being named director of the Women's Bureau and assistant secretary for labor standards at the Labor Department by President John F. Kennedy in 1961.
The Washington Post described her at the time as the highest-ranking woman in the federal government.
As the consumerism movement grew in America under the influence of Ralph Nader and other activists, President Lyndon B. Johnson named her the first White House consumer adviser in 1964, a post she held through 1967.
During the Nixon and Ford administrations, Mrs. Peterson served as legislative director of the clothing workers union and then consumer adviser to Giant Food, a leading supermarket chain in the Washington-Baltimore area.
Following Jimmy Carter's election in 1976, Mrs. Peterson returned to the White House as special assistant to the president for consumer affairs. Carter later also named her as director of the Office of Consumer Affairs in the old Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award for public service, in 1981.