Peter Tomei

Peter Tomei 1934-1971

We dedicate this 25th Reunion anthology to Peter A. Tomei, the first standard bearer of the Class of 1956. From Freshman Prom Chairmen to Class Secretary, Pete was our chosen leader. Whether playing football for Calhoun, earning a Phi Beta Kappa key, of running the Class Council, Pete worked with an open mid-western enthusiasm and a zest for accomplishment.

Such qualities stood him in good stead for the grind that was Harvard Law School and the early years of his litigation practice at Isham, Lincoln & Beale in Chicago. These were years of special intensity for Pete as he strove to “make partner”; to prove that the qualities which had won our admiration at Yale would secure his future in the larger and infinitely more complex world of work. He was successful again.

But even as he accepted his legal accolades, he was moving in new directions. (Leaders just have their mid-life crises before the rest of us.) In addition to his work, he devoted enormous time as a principal in the movement for the Illinois Constitution Convention. His interests broadened in religion, music and art. His individual drive matured to warmly embrace family, friendship and the burning contemporary issues of social justice.

The tragedy of Pete’s death cut short his example of personal growth and public service, and underscored for all of us the preciousness of life. We remember Pete and our other classmates who won’t return. They shared with each of us the brilliance and intensity and fragility of youth which will help us better keep the promise sealed ‘neath the elms 25 years ago today. Friendship lasts.

Tersh Boasberg
May 28, 1981