Time to Remember

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LCP Pete-best

Lovett C. Peters died Thursday, November 11, at the age of 97. After a fall this summer that led to a fractured hip, it was his hopeful determination that took him from hospital emergency room to rehab center, to his home, to a walker and even a cane. In October, Pete came to the office and attended board meetings. His death came after a fall at the theater, when his walker got caught on a carpet.

His was a great life—a hopeful, principled, determined, and undiscouraged life. We were all touched by it, as were thousands and thousands of children in the Commonwealth and elsewhere in the country, because of his work to improve the academic excellence and equality of opportunity in our schools.

The family wrote in his obituary that

Peters died believing he had won the greatest lottery of all time – he was born an American. He loved this country and felt blessed beyond measure by the opportunities he was given.

Pete always saw opportunity, and he was uniquely suited to succeed in a land noted for its freedoms. He was extremely goal-oriented — and once his initial goals were achieved, he always looked for newer and farther reaching ones. Certainly, this aided him in his trajectory from humble origins to economic success. But the values he learned from parents who were educators — and his ability to keep true to those values — marked him for success in private life and friendships as well.

At the age of 75 he dedicated himself to improving his community and his state. Naturally, given his view of opportunity and given the opportunities private scholarships afforded him, Pete understood the important implications of improving our schools.

And as one learned to expect from Pete, he brought a laser-like focus to the cause. Perhaps his optimism in his and Pioneer’s ability to succeed in this difficult task was best expressed in Ronald Reagan’s Inaugural Speech:

Together we have made a new beginning, but we have only begun.

No one pretends that the way ahead will be easy. The ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades. They will not go away in days, weeks or months. But they will go away. Because we as Americans have the capacity now, as we’ve had it in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom.

We will carry this work well into the next generation. We will carry it forward with that same Peters hope, the same Peters principles and the same Peters determination.

His Memorial Service will be held at the Church of the Redeemer (379 Hammond Street, Chestnut Hill) starting at 11 am on Saturday, December 11th. A reception will follow at The Country Club (191 Clyde Street, Chestnut Hill).

I welcome all of you to post your remembrances of Pete. It would be a wonderful gift for the Peters family and his family here at Pioneer.

  • http://www.pioneerinst.wpengine.com Jim Stergios

    We have lost a citizen of the first rank, a true Roman. I always admired his hopeful determination and his undiscouraged philanthropy.

    He never seemed to waver from the important objectives, even when the headwinds of opposition were strong enough to force most others to go to ground.

    He, and you, and Pioneer, will be in my evening and morning prayers.

    Tom Finneran

  • http://www.pioneerinst.wpengine.com Jim Stergios

    He was an amazing spirit whose influence, I’m sure, will remain far and wide. He certainly inspired me, and I have always appreciated his keen interest in our public schools and the opportunities that Pioneer gave me to share my passion.

    Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, M.A., J.D.
    Author of the little flipbooks of law, including Fixing Special Education and the 2010 edition of Grades, Report Cards, etc. and the LAW

  • Ellen Herzfelder

    Pete Peters had a wonderful life. He made a difference with his zeal, his good humor and his great heart.
    Once, when I made the suggestion that he should take the time to write up the stories behind some of his accomplishments, he replied: “You know, Ellen, I am not someone to look back. I always look ahead.” That was his genius. That was how he accomplished so much. That is what I will remember and miss the most.

  • chuck hewitt

    I only got the privlege of knowing Pete late in his life, most closely after he had recruited my father as the young blood to help lead Pioneer. Then in typical Peters fashion, Pete outlived Dad by over 5 years.

    Self reliant, amazingly unassuming, a defining moment for my wife and me was a building dedicaion earlier this year to my father. An event scheduled to start at 5. At 4;59, we looked up and in, all by himself, walked Pete Peters. At 97 years old, he, at least, assured us that he hadn’t taken the T but had actually been driven up the hill and dropped off.

    Pete’s quick intellegence cut to the core of every issue he faced. Most importantly, he was always looking for that which could take us to the next level.

    He was one of the giant oaks that point the way and serve as wind break for all of us who follow. Its beginning to feel too darn windy.

  • nancy coolidge

    So very true, all the above. I can’t stop thinking of the warmth of his greeting just two weeks ago as I rejoined the Board. He looked so well and was working unimaginably hard to regain his strength; it made me sure he’d be with us for a long time to come. I have felt very sad to loose him, but no question, we DO have to accept mortality – even with Pete Peters.

  • http://www.mafamily.org Kris Mineau

    Pete and Ruth will always be remembered for their wonderful warmth and compassion. They were genuine “pioneers” for God in a state that has lost its way concerning values and standards. They will be greatly missed but their legacy will endure thanks much to the work of Pioneer and the many other public policy endeavors championed by Pete and Ruth.

  • http://www.harveysilverglate.com Harvey A. Silverglate

    We have lost a hero and a giant. He devoted himself in large measure to the well-being of children, surely the most important duty that any citizen, or entire society for that matter, can perform. I got to know Pete in connection with my own work to foster liberty on college campuses, and Pete naturally had an intense interest in what I was doing, since he was interested in education from the earliest to the latest stages. He cannot be replaced, but we can carry on his vital work. HARVEY SILVERGLATE, The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education http://www.thefire.org.

  • Beth Myers

    What a joy to know Pete Peters!

    At a time in life when most of his peers were retiring and setting a leisure course, Pete boldly founded the Pioneer Institute to promote free market principles in all walks of life in Massachusetts. And by doing so he changed the landscape of politics and policy in the Bay State for the last 25 years.

    He was a futurist, and never stopped believing in the unlimited promise of the next generation of Americans. He took seriously his responsibility to provide these young people with all of the opportunities that America had provided him, and Pioneer’s record of achievement in education will be his enduring legacy.

    He was a mentor to many and an example to all who knew him. His positive attitude, pure motives and sunny disposition disarmed even those who may not have agreed with his ideas. And the beauty of Pete Peters and his work at Pioneer is that he believed the adage that there are no problems, only solutions. And because of this approach, Pete saw so many of Pioneer’s policy proposals become law and change lives.

    God speed, Pete. We will miss you.

  • http://www.pioneerinst.wpengine.com Jim Stergios

    (From Kit Nichols. Thanks, Kit! You captured the man.)

    When I interviewed at Pioneer in the Fall of 1995 as a fairly recent college grad, all I knew about it was what the staffing agency told me: “They do something with education.” After an initial interview, I was asked to come back to meet Pete. In our very first conversation, he quizzed me about what I’d studied, what my parents did, where I’d gone to high school, and lastly, had I ever heard of Friedrich Von Hayek or Joseph Schumpeter. As an English major who had artfully avoided all economics courses in college, I had to say no. I left sure there was no way I’d get the job. But Pete must have overlooked my ignorance because I started work the next day.

    I spent the better part of the next eight years learning a lot about economics, about education reform, and even more about how people of honor operate in the world. It was a first-class education. Even then, I understood that Pete was a rare breed, the likes of which we aren’t likely to see again. He was an astute and pragmatic business man, and a relentless optimist. He was the farthest thing from naïve, but he believed that good ideas will always win out in the end. He believed that people can and will rise to meet high expectations, no matter where they start from. He believed in hard work and perseverance. He was also a fierce competitor, one who always played a clean game but played to win – particularly if the game was tennis.

    Pete didn’t ask the people who worked for him to do anything that he wouldn’t do himself. Even in the biggest blizzards, when the State government offices had closed, he would walk to the T and take the Green line into the office. If there was a crunch getting ready for an event, Pete would be in the conference room stuffing folders and envelopes with everyone else. Some might say that it wasn’t a good use of a chairman’s time, but Pete knew that in a small organization that raised its operating budget every year, a sense of mission and camaraderie was critical. We all pitched it to do whatever needed to be done, because that’s what Pete did.

    He was fair, principled, and kind. The countless multitudes who were welcomed into Pete and Ruthie’s fold each have their own story about the generosity and grace with which they were greeted at the dinners, the croquet parties, the holiday parties, and the birthday parties. Being part of Pioneer was in some way being part of Pete’s family, and he looked out for us in a way that was typically Pete. As someone who had met his own perfect match in Ruthie, he was eager that the rest of the world be married too. He spent years trying to get me married off, looking pointedly at my ring finger whenever we met and asking, “So, do you have any good news yet?” He was also not above matchmaking and wasn’t shy about suggesting people he thought were suitable. I remember one particularly notable Monday morning staff meeting when we were discussing a potential donor to Pioneer, someone Pete liked and respected who had recently secured his fortune through the sale of a company. Pete nudged me, and suggested “Why don’t you cozy up to him, Kit?”

    Pete’s frugality was one of his hallmarks. I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembers the black and white wingtips that Pete sometimes wore, which he had purchased at Filene’s in 1933.

    Pete was passionate about education, and about educational opportunity, and he took on the monumental task of improving public education at a time when most of his colleagues were putting their feet up and enjoying retirement. Committed to school choice and charter schools, he believed in parents’ ability to make the best choices for their children, and he fought hard to give them those choices.

    I was at Pioneer when Pete got the phone call that his friend – and another person key to Pioneer’s founding – Ray Shamie had died. Pete got off the phone and sat quietly at his desk for a long time. Finally, I went in and asked, “Pete, are you okay?” He looked up with tears in his eyes. “I knew it was coming,” he said, “but I loved him.”

    I’ve thought about that moment a lot in the last few days, as I’ve thought about the flashing bowtie that Pete always wore at Christmas, and about the thousands of kids and parents that Pete quietly fought for, though most of them never knew it and never knew his name.

    Pete, we knew this day would come…but we loved you.

    – Kit Nichols

  • Nayenday Thurman

    The Commonwealth has lost a true champion! I had the privilege of working with Pete and will remember while continuing to be in awe of his determination, work ethic, and kind heart. Pete was truly someone you could say WALKED his TALK.

    I hope to have at least half the energy and will at 97 as Pete had. He will truly be missed.

  • Robbie Johnson

    Pete would expect me to be brief. He was the person any would aspire to be. Brilliant, compassionate, committed, humble and perseverant he was ever a true Yankee (even while in Houston and St Louis) and by definition one who believed in the rights, the strength, of the individual as the cornerstone of this great country and Commonwealth. His founding role in Pioneer led us to commit, and it is not surprising that too soon after his dear Ruth left this world so did he. But he would expect us to soldier on, and so we shall, hoping even to be half the human he was. God bless Pete Peters and his reunion with “Ruthie.”

  • Ed Bristol

    I don’t have a large association like the others, but I have deeply enjoyed the meetings offered by the Pioneer Institute and am honored to participate in its support, and thereby in part of Pete’s memorial. And as a big eater I several times appreciated coming to events when Pete came and joined me to eat!

  • Alan Morse

    Cecily and I had the good fortune to have dinner with Pete in early October, and then I had the privilege of driving Pete to and from the Pioneer Board Meeting which he attended. We were astounded at the energy, determination, independence and positive attitude displayed by Pete. Of course it has been an incredible experiencd for me to be able to interact with him during the last few years. He is the ultimte role model. His values and character have no equal.

  • Brian Gilmore

    I was in college in the late 60’s when I was first introduced to the Peters family, and since then I have greatly admired the work over the years of both Ruth and Pete to make the Commonwealth a better place to live and work.

  • http://www.mass.gov/dph/oems Sylvia Hobbs, Mass Dept of Public Health

    Pete Peters was a Lion King in his irrepressible commitment to ensuring equitable access to effective educational institutions in the Commonwealth. To his family, friends, and colleagues, please accept my deepest sympathies and take solace in the fact that Pete’s intellect, Pete’s strength, Pete’s sense of justice, and Pete’s ability to nurture extraordinary trajectories in everyday life will always be remembered.

  • http://atlasnetwork.org Alejandro Chafuen

    Although I must have crossed paths with Lovett C. “Pete” Peters before, I believe that the first time I spent quality time with Pete and members of his family was in 1990 or 1991, during the Mont Pelerin Society Regional Meeting in the city of Antigua, Guatemala. Several members of his wonderful family were also with him. I recall more vividly the last time I spent time with him. It was earlier this year in May. I was returning from a policy “scouting” trip to Cape Verde, in Africa, with Atlas trustee Curtin Winsor and was lucky to be received by him.
    When we arrived to the office of Pioneer Institute, which he founded in 1988, Pete was at his desk signing, and personalizing, thank you letters to donors. We had a short meeting speaking about Pioneer Institute with Jim Stergios, its executive director. Later Pete escorted Curt and me to lunch. We had to walk several blocks on a misty day, and Pete led the way with an agile fast pace, almost like a march. During lunch at his club he had the same orderly and straightforward conversation which characterized him at all times, never losing his train of thought, thinking creatively. We spoke about intellectual and economic investments, philanthropy and regulations; he was astute and perceptive as ever . . . what an example! He even convinced Curt Winsor to donate to Charlie Baker 2010 gubernatorial campaign [Baker joined Pioneer Institute during its first year of operations as co-director and left in 1991 to join then Governor Weld’s administration].
    The history of Peters with Atlas preceded the creation of Pioneer. Peters knew about the work of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in Great Britain, and on December 16, 1987, he invited John Blundell to give a keynote speech to make the case for founding a think tank to conduct policy research focusing on Massachusetts. The presentation was a success, and Pete was able to secure enough funding for the first three years of operations. The Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University conducted a case study after Pioneer completed its first ten years. The study: “Going Against the Grain: A “Conservative” Think Tank in Massachusetts,” can be ordered on-line and tells the story of the challenge of establishing a free market-oriented public policy think tank in one of the nation’s most interventionist states.
    I always admired Pete’s management talent and dedication. He came to the think tank world after a successful corporate career and had served on the board of educational institutions committed to the free society, such as the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) and Hillsdale College. Although I have been involved in building classical liberal organizations since I was twenty, my strength is more creating than managing, so I always sought the collaboration and advice of those who could complement my skills. Few could give you such valuable advice as Pete. On several occasions, when I had questions about the direction of Atlas, I would seek Pete’s opinion. He was always ready to help. I valued it so much that I recall once driving four hours each way to be able to spend some quality time with him.
    Pete had been close to the think tank movement and helped many of them develop. Once think tanks matured, including his Pioneer Institute, Pete embarked in mobilizing these tanks to achieve doable education reform. He knew it would take time, so he focused on charter schools as a first step. One of his favorite phrases was “it took [the state] 50 years to get into this mess; it’s going to take 51 to get out.”
    Those of us who also witnessed his marvelous relation with Ruth knew that they belonged together. That story deserves a book, and now they are together: never to miss each other again.
    The last time I saw Pete, he out-walked me. I know that when our walk reaches the end of our temporal road, and try to compare it with his run, we will realize that he outdistanced us by far. But thanks to his example and legacies, all of us who learned from him have been able to reach much farther than we ever imagined.

  • Diane Schmalensee

    Pete Peters was so many things that’s it’s difficult to know how to describe him. He was funny and to the point. He was on time. He was a walker and a hard worker. He was a gentleman, polite to all and ethical in his behavior. He was a man who enjoyed life, greeting everyone with a big smile and a twinkle in his eye. He was a consummate businessman, who rose from ordinary beginnings to achieve considerable success during his career. He was a great friend and neighbor: He and Ruthie were the heart of Chestnut Hill, their church, their clubs and every social gathering they attended. He was a supportive mentor to many, encouraging people to make the most of their lives and actively creating opportunities for them. He was a loving father to his children and their extended families. He was a wonderful husband to his beloved Ruthie for over 70 years. He was richly loved. He was a visionary, founding the Pioneer Institute before anyone else knew how greatly it was needed by the Commonwealth. He was a citizen of the world, making life better for many school children and others who never knew his name.
    So, how can we sum up Pete? He made us and the world better.

  • Stephen Mead

    Pete Peters

    So many of us spend our lives searching for mentors and leaders. I found mine in Pete Peters. Pete’s model of leadership and being an agent of change rested on ideas, knowledge, information, collaboration, and partnership. Ideas didn’t have to be his or Republican or Democrat, private or public sector. What was most important to him was that they be backed up with analysis, thought, and just a little common sense before getting implemented. No idea was too little or too grand. Every where he looked he saw that the status quo was not acceptable and so many people in positions of responsibility were kept for one reason or another from focusing on the reality of outcomes. Through the Pioneer Institute he sought to empower those willing to make a sustained and real difference in people’s lives. He is no longer with us, but his strength of personality will always provide me with the hope that the world can be the place that God would want it to be.

  • Charlie Baker (Jr.)

    I have immensely enjoyed reading the comments that precede my own. They capture Pete – and Ruthie – in so many positive ways. Let me add that Pete was wise, charming, decent and kind – but most of all, he believed in the power of ideas. He believed that ideas change countries, civilizations, and lives, and he spent his entire life promoting that notion anywhere he could. No one practiced what he preached like Pete. The guy was a fountain of ideas – in business, life, philanthropy, public policy, you name it. In my campaign for Governor, as I traveled around the Commonwealth, I came to believe that the four most important words to the Commonwealth of MA were, “I have an idea.” No one understood the power of those four words like Pete.

    He was one of a kind, and he will be missed.

  • http://www.sabis.net Udo E. Schulz

    I only met Pete about 15 years ago as he so strongly supported education reform. Not a big man measured in inches but quite a giant of creative ideas, determination, focus, intellect and seemingly endless energy at quite an advanced age. I’m more than 25 years his junior and at 6’2” had a hard time keeping up with the little guy walking one icy winter day on a very slippery sidewalk from his office to some meeting half a mile away. As he was keenly focused on our discussion and the upcoming meeting he was mindless of the dangers on the road, which I found very symptomatic for his style and approach in general.
    In our common effort to improve schools and specifically K-12 education for disadvantaged and underserved youth SABIS® tried about 10 years ago to promote what I called the “Pete Peters Challenge” which offered “a $1 million guarantee that it CAN improve the education of students trapped in 22 failing Massachusetts elementary schools” to Superintendents and School Boards primarily around the Boston area. Not a single one accepted the challenge or grabbed the opportunity. Pete was ahead of the times and too gutsy for the timid and territorial establishment more interested in the short-term financial and political interests of the adults than improving the future of kids and communities. Worse than that – it seems nothing has changed over the past 10 years. I also found the same resistance when I tried the same challenge with Pete’s permission in Louisiana and Georgia. Nobody accepted the challenge then. However, different from Massachusetts chances, choices and conditions for schools and students have significantly improved in those two states over the last few years.
    I suppose Pete had a blessed, long, fulfilled and successful life. Nevertheless, he will be missed by many. I will miss him.

  • Michael Goetz

    Jeri and I loved Pete and Ruthie. They will be role models for us always.

  • Maria Ortiz Perez

    These are indeed very sad news. Pete was one of the most inspirational men I have ever met. As a former employee of Pioneer, I have nothing but gratitude towards him.
    My first week at Pioneer, Pete invited me to the symphony and asked me about my family, my interests and who I was. I understood this was a very special man, who truly wanted to know the people who worked at Pioneer. He really cared. And there was no way to use the snow as an excuse not to show up at work. If a 97 year old man could take the T, so could I!
    Like Kit (above) I certainly received some advice from Pete, who would ask me from time to time when I was planning to have kids (not yet Pete!). My favorite memory of Pete is when he invited us to his home for a summer gathering 2 years ago. My husband told me Pete had asked him to play croquet so I made him promise to go easy on Pete. To my surprise, my husband came back from the game all discouraged because Pete had totally kicked his butt!
    Pete was a man of many talents, of great intelligence, courage and kindness. A great mentor and example for those of us who want to make a difference in our communities. He will be greatly missed.
    Maria Ortiz Perez- former Pioneer employee

  • King Webster

    When I begin thinking of Pete’s attributes, I find the list to be endless. The word “Inspiring” might best summarize Pete’s qualities.

    How blessed I have been to have known Pete, for he added a wonderful dimension to my life.

  • Keith Lepor

    I deeply regret that I did not know Pete long or well. We first met at a small luncheon during the summer of 2009 at which time I was beginning to assess the feasibility of running for Congress here in Massachusetts. I found Pete a most engaging and thoughtful man and someone that reminded me of a very kind and introspective Oxford Don. I had occasion to meet and speak with him several times over the course of my campaign and was pleased by his encouragement and interest. He has certainly made a very positive impact upon the Commonwealth and all who have had the pleasure of crossing his path.

  • John O’Leary

    I met Pete working on Pioneer’s very first Better Government Competition in 1991. Observing Pete through the years was inspirational — his life was a testament to the positive influence a life well lived can have on those around him. He and Ruth were a powerful team.

    Pete had courage. He took a principled stand for market-oriented reforms in a time and place where such ideas were considered uncouth. But then again he embodied so many of the old-fashioned virtues that are in short supply these days–honesty, punctuality, frugality. He didn’t care about fitting in, and as a result he stood out like a beacon of light in the gloom. He drew others to Pioneer by sheer dint of his enthusiasm and the power of his ideas and his ideals.

    He will be sorely missed by all of us who had the privelige to know him. — John O’Leary

  • Paula Pepper Braun

    Mr. Peters was
    my next door neighbor on Old Orchard Rd for over 10 years. From the moment we moved in, he made us feel welcome and taught my husband all about the unusual plantings in his yard that he had acquired from the Arnold Arboretum curators and as gifts from horticulturalists across Massachusetts.

    Mr Peters was a gentleman and a scholar. A real American and true conservative.
    Our condolences to the Peters family.

  • http://www.fee.org Lawrence W. Reed

    Liberty never had a better friend than Pete Peters. A man of the highest character, he worked tirelessly for all the right things, long past the time that others retire. He was an inspiration beyond what words could convey and I will forever miss him deeply.

    –Lawrence W. Reed, President
    Foundation for Economic Education and President Emeritus, Mackinac Center for Public Policy

  • Alice Boelter

    Pete was one amazing, energetic giant among men, never satisfied with today’s achievement, but always ready to plunge into finding solutions for tomorrow’s problems. We owe it to him to make sure that educational opportunities are available to all children so they may share with the world the gifts within them just as Pete so generously shared his with us. Thank you, Pete for your good will, endless energy, and ongoing inspiration.

  • jim

    From DA Mittell, Jr.:

    Four things come quickly, indelibly, to mind about the life of Pete Peters.

    First is the power of a single committed human being to effect good in the world. This represents the final rejection of determinist nonsense that, for example, the sonnets of Shakespeare were all written in the primordial universe that emerged from the Big Bang. In human affairs, there are choices, and those who choose to do for others can create innocence out of cynicism. When they are gifted and persistent, as Pete was, they can palpably improve the world.

    Secondly, Pete had faith, as Lincoln put it at Cooper Union, that “right makes might.” He put his faith in reason and in the ability of ideas to change the direction of the body politic. After a remarkable business career he set about to change the conventional wisdom through tenacious persuasion, but with an ever-modest demeanor. How this contrasts with those who use accumulated fortunes to try to get themselves to political office.

    Thirdly, Pete inspired all who follow him to understand that life after three-score-and-ten can be more productive than what came before it. Not all of us will be blessed with the good health Pete had, nor with a spouse in equally good health for so very long. Not all of us, at 95, will be able to publish an op-ed piece in the Boston Globe — one that in this writer’s opinion was more to the point than anything the newspaper produced in-house about education in 2009! But we are all to be inspired by Pete “…to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield,” as Tennyson put it.

    Fourthly, is a point that some people get and some still do not: By any reasonable definition of the term, Pete Peters was the most liberal guy in contemporary Boston. In the press, “conservative think tank” still goes with drunken sailor, Boston driver, mad hatter and the like. On the contrary: Pete’s liberalism was at least two-fold — his respect for ideas, his and others — and his understanding that sometimes liberal ends are best achieved by what are loosely called conservative means.

    2010 marks 45 years since Jonathan Kozol, who would write “Death At An Early Age,” served as a substitute Boston school teacher. In the last decade who, exactly, has been fighting to preserve a chronically failing status quo, and who was the persistent champion of equal educational rights for black, Cambodian, Cape Verdean, Hispanic, Portuguese and white children in Boston, Brockton, Fall River, Lowell, Athol — etc.?

    We know the answer and must carry on.

    David A. Mittell, Jr.

  • David Parker

    I remember in the late 80’s reading an article in the Boston Globe about a man who had started a Think Tank, in Boston, based on classical liberal ideas. This man, Pete Peters, stated in the interview, that politicians were like cattle: If you want results you had to stampede them in the desired direction.
    I thought this was extraordinary that one would attempt to appeal to politicians by comparing them to herd cattle! At that time I was interested in Housing Policy and I called Pete Peters up and invited him to have lunch at our house in the South End; (he accepted).
    In 1987-88 the South End where we lived was more slum than “tony” destination. At exactly noon the doorbell of our townhouse rang and there was Peter Peters unfazed by the “sketchy” area he was in!
    At lunch we discussed a few issues on housing and I brought his quote up about the stampeding cattle. After a moment Pete added that if Pioneer was successful he would probably “stink” a little.
    At the time I didn’t know what he meant by that but I think I do now! Especially in Massachusetts, if you wanted to have a meeting of people who shared your classical liberal views, you would end up with 10 people (at best) in the room! If you wanted to change the climate of opinion in Massachusetts, you had to get up close and personal with legislators that do not share any of your fundamental political presuppositions. Therefore, you needed to talk about very specific ideas, like charter schools, hoping that on these specific issues, you could change the climate of opinion.
    Pete Peters understood that if you are to influence politicians you have to join them in the barn yard, and some critics would claim that in doing so you would “stink” a little. But Pete understood that this is the price you pay to get the cattle stampeding in the direction you want. However, for over 20 years Pete has done this without ever compromising his principles, conduct, or character. And this is not a small victory.
    And this extraordinary man will be deeply missed.

  • Dane Baird

    From 1984 until 1998 I spent summers at Cambridge and Oxford working on papers concerning the history of conflict, advantage and strategy. Classmate, Jack Dorgan was Pete Peters’ number two financial guy at Conoco. Jack had subsequently become the CFO at Occidental Petroleum and an immediate good friend.

    Sometime in late August of those productive summers Jack phoned to say, ‘a friend Pete Peters’ would call to share an idea concerning improvement of the philosophical and financial future of Massachusetts. After a short canvass at my Club concerning ‘futures’, Pete asked me to support his venture with the promise, that if unsuccessful in establishing his ‘Institute’, he would return my check.

    Good Guy, Right Referral, Solid Sales Talk. I bit on instinct. The rest is a history of Pete’s performance drive and sound craft.

    Rest in Peace Pete, you have served Man and God. You have fought the good fight.

    Dane Baird

  • Con Chapman

    ON PETE PETERS
    Chestnut Hill, 2010

    I was often the scrivener for his projects too bold by half,
    It is thus fit and meet that I should write him an epitaph.
    A happy warrior, smiling as up the Union Club steps he walked
    Through a gantlet of angry carmen, repaying curses with reasoned talk.
    Gracious to his adversaries with a temperament sublime,
    Never agitated until a speaker—a mere senator–ran past his time.
    He leaves behind a legacy both spiritual and affirmative;
    ideas, and schools to teach the poor who have no alternative.
    He was a scholarship boy, generous with his wealth,
    A testament to the power of education, he gave freely of himself.
    Goldsmith said of Burke, like Pete, a mind among men, sir,
    That he was doomed in political quarries to cut blocks with a razor.
    Pete’s heirs live on, alive and well, produced by thought and not mating.
    When he got to Heaven I hope the other Pete didn’t keep him waiting.

  • jim

    From William S. Edgerly:

    Over the forty years I knew Pete, I came to appreciate his special interest in finding and developing new young talent. He looked for innovators who had bright ideas and the drive to make them reality. He would offer a young person an opportunity to achieve more than anyone expected, or to fall short. He would persuade a young person to move from, “Oh, no, I’m not qualified for that” to “Okay, I’ll give it a try.” The word “pioneer” fits his wish to move people beyond existing boundaries. Charter schools are a good illustration with their numerous examples of young leaders breaking the barriers of low expectations. This special interest of his multiplied Pete’s contributions to the present and future.

  • David Evans

    In the late 1980s a friend of mine suggested that that I have lunch with a fellow named Pete Peters who was proposing to do some interesting things in Massachusetts. I was astounded at that lunch when I met someone in Boston who knew of Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Not only that, he intended to start a public policy think tank based on such unaccepted ideas that markets would work better in creating a vibrant society than would directions from the most well meaning public officials.

    Pete did it right. He lived a great and successful life. I was honored to have known and worked with him and to have experienced his energy, determination, and tireless work for his ideals.

    May his legacy grow.

  • John Silber

    “Pete” Peters was an exemplary citizen who devoted his talents, energy and fortune—in short, his life—to the improvement of the nation and the city in which he lived. Recognizing the fundamental importance of education as essential to the fulfillment of each individual, Pete devoted his greatest efforts to the improvement of public education. He was a generous, dedicated activist, motivated by the highest principles. We may say of him what was said of Brutus: the elements were “So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up/ And say to all the world ‘This was a man!'”