The Passing of a Fighter



By 11/21/2010

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I was saddened to learn recently of the death of Lovett “Pete” Peters, the legendary philanthropist, education reformer, and founder of the Boston-based Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research, who passed away on November 11th at the impressive age of 97.

Though I did not know Pete well, a few years back I had the opportunity to have lunch with him just days after getting engaged. Recognizing that I would not often have the opportunity to sit down with someone who had been happily married for more than 70 years, I decided to ask what advice he would give to someone soon to be wed and hoping for a similar outcome. He responded without hesitation: “Learn how to fight.” The key, he went on, was to focus not on sorting out who is right and who is wrong but rather on “how to get yourselves out of the mess together.” It remains the single best piece of marital advice I’ve received.

It seems to me now that Pete brought that same forward-looking perspective to his work on public policy – and that this is one reason the Pioneer Institute was so effective under his leadership. Though never shy about criticizing policies and practices he believed to be misguided, his aim was not to cast blame. Instead, he and his associates worked tirelessly to put forward new, creative ideas that offered the hope of moving the debate forward. Let us hope that the Pioneer Institute carries on this legacy in his absence.




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