Peter Shull, '63
With much sadness, we report to classmates what we recently learned: our roommate and good friend Peter (Boomer) Shull died in March, 2002. We learned from Boomer’s daughter Samantha that he died in a fire; details are lacking and unimportant – the fact is that Boomer is gone. We have lost a special friend; the world has lost a concerned and compassionate man.
After graduation from Amherst, Boomer enlisted in the Air Force and became an officer and was assigned to a series of easy and nonviolent roles at bases in Biloxi, Oklahoma City, and Omaha – where we enjoyed visits with Lt. Shull. In Oklahoma he met and married Carol, and became father to her two children, as well as the two that they had together. After four years in the Air Force he tried business in Manhattan (and a long rail commute from Connecticut), then they moved to Brownsville, Texas, where Carol’s family lived. Significant work was difficult to find there, and they moved north to Houston, where Boomer made his home for the next 30 years.
He worked his way into the Oil Patch in the 1970’s, becoming a ‘land man’. He was the friendliest agent in the cut-throat world of negotiating drilling leases, and too honorable to become wealthy. Boomer and his family seemed to be comfortable in Houston, until a crash one New Year's Eve in the mid-80’s took Carol’s life. Boomer took full responsibility for her death, and recognized that alcohol had taken over his life. His letters always showed that he worked hard to atone and deal with his weakness with the help of support groups such as AA.
When Wythe last saw him, at our 35th reunion, Boomer spoke fully about this tragedy and his reformation. Though much quieter than before, Boomer was the same observant, kind, direct, elfin person that we knew at Amherst. Boomer had many friends in Houston, but we’ve sensed that there was a void and continuing sadness after Carol’s death.
Ironically, things seemed to be brighter for him before he died: oil leasing work had improved, he had a new apartment, and was wired into the web and email. Over the past 15 years there were activities that brought Boomer much joy (as they had at Amherst): dancing and soccer. He was a flamboyant dancer (actually suffered his worst athletic injury doing a John Travolta move on the dance floor). As a supplement to AA, he was active in groups that utilize dance for aerobic and spiritual development. Three years ago he wrote of his excitement when he scored a goal. Like his soccer teammates did, we should toast our classmate. May he dance on.