Deceased January 27, 2023

View alumni profile (log in required)
Read obituary


Peter (nobody called him Melchior) chose Amherst after some research on endowment-per-student and faculty-per-student ratios.

Fifty years after graduation, Peter observed, “My only distinction at Amherst was in pioneering the Underachiever Program [designed to shock students into trying harder to reach their potential]. I was put on probation first semester of junior year, violated all the terms of my probation and was suspended for the spring semester.” (Dean Bacon found him a place at Reed College for that semester.)

While at Amherst, Peter drove a series of classic cars, including a 1936 Packard 16-cylinder limousine and a 1934 Pierce-Arrow two-door phaeton, acquired at fire-sale prices in the Berkshire area.

 Shortly after graduation, he was drafted into the Army and sent to Germany. He returned with a love of the opera; in many years thereafter, he and Don Lindberg ’54 would spend a week at the Santa Fe Opera.

Following his military service, Peter acquired a Ph.D. from the University of Washington and went on to teach the history of psychiatry and neurology at UCLA. He later ran a medical research conference program for the Kroc Foundation. Our 50th reunion found him deeply involved in analyzing American security policy since WWII.

During his Los Angeles years, Peter was a serious mountaineer, climbing regularly in the Sierras as well as challenging peaks in New Mexico, Colorado, the Andes, Bhutan and Switzerland.

He celebrated his 75th birthday with his sophomore roommates Tyler Abell ’54, Don Lindberg ’54 and Ralph Pagter ’54. He is survived by Mary Utton, his longtime partner; his son, John; two grandchildren; and many other relatives and friends. 

Matt Mitchell ’54 and Tyler Abell ’54