Deceased November 28, 2013
Peter Winn '48, handsome devil, funny, stoical, curious contrarian, who died Thanksgiving Day 2013, might be remembered best at Amherst for his avid participation as an actor in many Masquers
productions. He was the leading man in "Happy As Larry," which he reprised in an NBC series after graduation.
Pete was also the young man who seemed always to have an awful lot of hot fudge sauce and salted peanuts on his outsized sundaes, having sweet-talked the cooks in Valentine Hall. Born in 1926 to Presbyterian missionaries in Japan, he supplemented his scholarship by working the college switchboard nights and weekends. Anyone who was involved with him in accepting the first person of color into Phi Kappa Psi (leading to the fraternity's expulsion from the parent organization and the change of name to Phi Alpha Psi) would remember him for the power of his belief that all are created equal.
Or he might be remembered as the lucky guy who married Sylvia Canfield, the dark haired, blue-eyed daughter of Curt Canfield, founding professor of the drama department. They were married for 61 years, raising two children, Brad Winn, a conservation biologist, and Tracy Winn, a fiction writer.
Peter went on to use his actor's experience and formidable powers of persuasion, first as a radio announcer, then in the Amherst College Office of Public Relations. In 1955, the nascent Public Television station in Boston, WGBH, snagged him to be their director of PR. Dedicated student of world affairs and enthusiastic golfer, he went on to a career at Kenyon & Eckhardt Advertising Inc., blending his creative, word-smithing and administrative talents as vice president of marketing. In television and print media, he found ingenious ways to promote the savings bank industry, winning several awards for his ads, including two CLIOs before retiring in 1987.
Peter was preceded by a proud Amherst graduate in each of the three generations before him: his great-grandfather, John H. Winn 1834; his grandfather, Thomas Clay Winn, 1873; and his father-in-law, F. Curtis Canfield, Class of 1925. He said his education at Amherst taught him, among many other things, to know a good man when he met one. His memories of his days there remained a strong force throughout his life.