Deceased August 22, 2023
View alumni profile (log in required)
As the shared result of a pregnancy that was celebrated every moment and fallen into a nest that continued that indulgence, we were princes of a realm that reduced family life to caring for kids and playing hard with generous helpings of Golden Rules and Kindness.
We visited Amherst and met Roger Pennington ’61, one of several graduates who joined the admissions staff in 1959. In a conversation some years later, Roger confided that he advocated for both “you and your brother. We were quite taken with your parents and sensed we might break a heart if we took just one.”
The most pivotal moment of Peter’s years at Amherst happened the first day of English 1-2 in Williston Hall. He met Roger Sale and fell in love with writing, an affair that would last a lifetime.
After Amherst, Peter joined the non-tenured track at UC Berkeley at a time that provided contact with The Free Speech Movement of Mario Savio (that’s Peter sitting on the captured cop-car at Sproul Hall). He had non-tenured stints at UBirmingham, UK, and Oakland Community College that allowed him to continue as editor of Witness. His introductions to the issues of Witness probably display his greatest literary skills as editor and literary critic. The manner of his dedication to editing Witness displays his belief that with sufficient dedication we can all be writers. When I visited Peter in Ann Arbor, I would join him on his open front porch with his “Box,” the unopened submissions for the last few issues of Witness. Every submission would get a thorough, kindly reading with suggestions on improvement if possible.
While at Berkeley, Peter preached the I. F. Stone Weekly on the Vietnam War and caught a few nightsticks from the Highland Alameda Patrol on his thinning scalp. He later sat a sleepless night watch with a shotgun on his lap at Brown Chapel, Selma, Alabama.
My daughter, Amanda, wrote of his passing. “You have always shared that he was your closest friend and personal shadow growing up, which is so much more than many have as a kid, adolescent or young adult.”
I am lucky to have been blessed with a twin, to have grown up never alone, never threatened or afraid of the dark.
I have always described Peter as easy to love and hard to live with. He had a way of charting an independent course that worried the whole family. Maybe now we will feel his love a lesser burden.
Patrick Stine ’63