Wednesday, August 13, 2008

GEORGE PETER: Educator, Author, Leader, Historian and Brother

New York Freemasonry and the Craft, in general, lost one of its best last weekend. RW George Peter, our Grand Historian Emeritus, has left our earthly plane for that House not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, and he will be sorely missed.

I first met Brother George when I was invited to join the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitabus Foederatis . He was its Chief Adept at the time and was very warm & welcoming. He was a constant source of Masonic information and was always ready to share his knowledge & experience.

He always had his wife with him and you could tell how much the two of them loved each other. They were the model couple for the institute of marriage. I always thought that he looked lost following her passing. Hopefully, they are together again.

Freemasonry has lost one of its best examples of what it’s all about – let’s honor RW Peter by trying to emulate him and make ourselves better Masons in the process.

His Obituary reads:

On August 10th 2008, George Peter, 86, was reunited with his beloved wife Gloria Barnell (1924-2005). George's life and work was a reflection of his passion for learning, for his community, and for those he held dear. He will be remembered for his dedication to the multiple roles he fulfilled within the communities he loved: Cornell University, the Village of Aurora, NY and the Brotherhood of the Masonic Order. George was a beloved brother, husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather; role model, mentor, and friend.

Born on October 21, 1921 in Ithaca NY to an Armenian father, Joseph Peter (nee Hovsep Bedros Karamardian) and Syrian mother, Helen Mike, George grew up with his 8 siblings on a farm in the hills of South Danby. He graduated from Ithaca High School in 1940 and shortly after enlisted in the Army Air Corps. While in service to his country from 1942-1946, he met the love of his life Gloria Barnell in Lincoln, Nebraska. They were married on June 11, 1945 and remained devoted to each other until her death on June 22nd 2005 just 11 days after their 60th wedding anniversary.

George spent his early career operating his own TV repair business, as well as working full time at Cornell University from 1947. George remained at Cornell until his retirement in 1988. He began his tenure at the University as an electronics technician and went on to teach courses in electronics, and eventually to serve as one of the four professionals appointed to undertake the installation of the world's first fixed-base radio telescope at Arecibo Puerto Rico, where he moved with his family in 1960. After two years in Puerto Rico, George returned to Ithaca to direct the Research and Development Lab of the National Astronomy & Ionosphere Center (NAIC) that continued to design, build and install the radio astronomy receivers used at the Arecibo Telescope. Arecibo remains the largest radio astronomy telescope in the world.
A lover of "life, love, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," George worked tirelessly in his "spare time" as an advocate for his colleagues—the more than 5,000 Cornell University employees. Greatly inspired by the founding principals, and principles, of his country, George created employee representation on the University governance body called the Cornell Senate (which previously included only faculty and students). In 1975, he became the first employee representative to the Cornell Board of Trustees and served 4 terms in that role, serving on the executive committee of the board for most of that time, and on the search committees for two of Cornell's presidents. He was appointed Trustee Emeritus in 1988. He was one of the founders of the Cornell Recreation Club and an active member of Cornell Retirees Association.
In recognition George's service to Cornell, the George Peter Dedicated Service Award was established – and George personally attended those awards ceremonies up until his death. In support of his fellow employees, George wrote a weekly column entitled Leadership Leads, in the Cornell employee newspaper he helped to found, The Paw Print, for which he was broadly recognized and appreciated.

But perhaps nowhere were George's personal values better exemplified than in his volunteer work as a member of the Masonic Order. He is Past Master of both Hobasco Lodge #716 and Scipio Lodge #110, and past District Deputy Grand Master for the Cayuga-Tompkins District. He also served as Grand Historian for the Grand Lodge of the State of New York from 1993 until 2008, when he was appointed Grand Historian Emeritus. He was also a member of the York Rite and Scottish Rite Bodies, AMD, Chief Adept NY College SRICF, Past Master of the American Lodge of Research, member Philalethes Society, member Quatuor Coronati, member Kalurah, A.A.O.N.M.S., Past Dad Advisor and Chairman of Advisory Board Order of DeMolay for Boys in Ithaca.

George's passion for leadership development and education was expressed in Masonic circles through his 12 years as chairman on the Leadership Services Committee. The son of hard-working immigrant parents, George himself had limited educational opportunities but yet committed himself to furthering the educational opportunities of others by co-founding leadership development courses for Freemasons across NY State. This initiative evolved into what is now known as the Masonic University of New York, or MUNY. For many years he participated in the North East Conference of Masonic Education and Libraries, which involved Masonic educators from Maine to Virginia in planning for the betterment of their membership.
For these contributions, George has been honored by the Grand Lodges of New York and Connecticut. The Masonic Lodge of Research in New Haven presented the 2006 James Royal Case Fellowship in May of 2007. There have been 15 Case Fellows, named in honor of the late Grand Historian of Connecticut, and George was the third New York Mason in the group of "internationally famed Masonic writers and educators." In 2007 the Grand Lodge of the State of New York developed the George Peter Award to recognize a Mason who has devoted himself to the education of his Brothers, struck a medal bearing George's likeness, and made him the first recipient of the honor.

Upon his death, George was completing three books which represent his areas of passion: The Power and Passion of Freemasonry, Leadership Leads, and twelve chapters of his family life growing up on the South Danby farm during the Depression era. Each of these are soon to be published.

Of enormous importance to George and Gloria, was their beloved community of Aurora, NY which they adopted upon their move from Ithaca in 1971. They quickly became pillars of community spirit in Aurora, and for many years hosted the community's annual ice cream social. In 1974, George rallied his neighbors to create what became the yearly Aurorafest celebration which continues to this day. The Village of Aurora and its inhabitants have been an inspiration and comfort to George and Gloria over the years and collectively, they supported George through Gloria's illness and eventual death. They have been an invaluable support to George and his family in recent weeks.

Finally, George's life was underscored by his large and loving family. In addition to his beloved wife and his parents, he was pre-deceased by his brothers, Jacob and Moses Peter, sister-in-law Hazel Peter, brothers-in-law Horen Bakerjian and Bill Smith, nephew Samuel, nieces Judy Peter Fallon and Lorraine Peter Droste, and a grand nephew Brian Walpole. He is survived by his children: Michael J. Peter and his wife Wilnive, known as TC (Ft. Lauderdale, FL), Patrice DiLorenzo and her husband Scottie Morris (Key West, FL), Denice Peter Karamardian (Ithaca, NY), Paula J. Peter and her partner Michael Ward (Ithaca, NY). He is also survived by his grandchildren Aubryn Allyn Sidle, Lauren DiLorenzo, C. Connor Sidle, Savan Karamardian DeSouza, and great granddaughter Aurora Gayle Atkins. George's surviving siblings and spouses are John and Charlotte Peter (Syracuse, NY) Susie Bakerjian (Los Palos Verdes, CA.), Mitchell and Pat Peter (Naples, FL), Samuel and Ruth Peter (Ithaca NY and Bonita Springs, FL), Laura Smith (Trumansburg, NY) and Lois Peter (Bradenton, FL). Numerous nieces and nephews, Masonic Brothers, surrogate family, and friends from around the world loved and will miss their Uncle/Brother George.

Calling hours will be held at Shakelton Funeral Home on Main Street in Aurora NY on Saturday morning, August 16 from 10:00am until 1:00pm, and on Sunday morning, August 17th from 9:00am until 1:00pm.

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