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Peter Crichton Burchard

Died: February 24, 2018,El Cajon, CA

I remember little of the lectures I sat through when I got up in time or the reading I did feverishly at the last minute. What I do remember is an assemblage of extremely bright people, knots of whom were drawn together with some sense of common interest and purpose. To me, that is part of the genius of Yale’s emphasis on diversity. No matter how obscure or pedestrian your interests, there are others in the community who share your pursuits. And others, different from you, from whom you could learn.

I was never completely convinced I belonged at Yale, that I hadn’t been picked off of some pile of applications designated jock/legacy, as a beneficiary of some unspoken quota. My self-doubt faded over four years, a great deal with the experience of a Senior Society, where I learned that I could occasionally make sense, and that others whom I regarded as intellectually superior, a proposition most of them would have quickly agreed with, were quite capable of missing the larger point. The gap became asymptotic, but remained.

The occasional experience of having the mind soar into exhilarating and unfamiliar territory was a seed that was planted in my Yale experience and has been nurtured throughout my life. To this day I am still taking undergraduate courses on the internet, everything from Roman Architecture (a Yale course) to Buddhism and Modern Psychology to the History of Rock and Roll, among many others. Currently paddling through Modernism and Post Modernism, as seen by a guy from Wesleyan, and a series of lectures on the Theory of the Literary Criticism delivered by Paul Fry, a Yale English Professor and former Master of Stiles, who was a friend years ago.

Vietnam was the experience that seared our generation, and one that I have never quit thinking about, with a mixture of guilt and relief. Two of my favorite people at Yale, Dick Pershing and Johnny White, didn’t come back. Pershing was always a wondrous wit and I spent two years running with John on our sprint relay team.

I had a unremarkable professional life, banking, labor relations, and investing, none of it as satisfying as my work as a coach for youth sports on the high school level. My largest failure was my inability to sustain my marriage, which produced two wonderful, talented sons and four phenomenal granddaughters. I write mystery stories late at night starring my granddaughters as a detective agency.

One of the things I treasure most is the fact that I am still in contact with my eight Zoo roommates, and others from our class. All remain interesting and successful, and I was blessed by visits from two of them recently.

Health issues the past few years have slowed me down, but modern medicine and showing up on time for appointments have kept me in the game. A lengthy recovery from one operation that left me in a wheelchair opened gates to Buddhism and Taoism. As they say, “One door…”