Peter Freund

November 11, 2014
Posted by Jay Livingston

Last weekend we honored our colleague Peter Freund, who died in June. Peter and George Martin were the co-founders, in the 1970s, of our New York Walk – an unofficial, informal, and very loosely planned event for faculty, students, friends, anyone who wanted to join us.  It started as a one-off in the 1970s but became a semi-annual event. Our route usually took us to places like Grand Central Station (Peter loved showing students the whispering gallery there) and downtown sites (Lower East Side, Chinatown). But for Saturday’s reunion, we walked the High Line.  George Martin and Laura Kramer, both retired, were there.

Faye Allard, our colleague till last year, came in from Philadelphia. Here she is with Sangeeta Parashar.

On Sunday, there was a memorial service.  More former Montclair colleagues came – Gil Klajman, Barbara Chasin – and spoke. 

Anecdotes, admiration, and appreciation and were offered also by Peter’s wife Miriam, his sisters and nephews, and several friends and colleagues who collaborated with him on his research and activism all with the goal of reducing the dominance of automobiles, especially in our cities.  (Peter was a founding member of Auto-Free New York, and he never learned to drive a car – a decision that was both ideological and prudent.)

Food and beer, travel and cities, generosity and humor – these were the recurrent themes in people’s reminiscences. That plus a deliberate unconventionality, often as a gambit to get others to question their usually unquestioned assumptions. Like tearing up a dollar bill or two on the first day of class, and when students got upset, asking them why. Peter had a wonderful golden retriever and had named her Igor. He said it was in tribute to Dr. Frankenstein’s assistant, but I think it was also so he could delight in the reactions of those who insisted that this male name was just wrong for a female pup or, better yet, that the dog would wind up with a confused gender-identity.  In a way I cannot quite articulate, this fits with something else Peter loved – British entertainments like The Goon Show, Monty Python, and Gilbert and Sullivan.  A female dog named Igor – Peter’s own Python sketch.

Peter Freund
November 14, 1940 - June 12, 2014

The ASA Footnotes obituary for Peter is her.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post, Jay. A knowing wrap on a remembrance weekend. George