In Memoriam – Peter Rowe

NORTHAMPTON, MA — Peter Rowe, 92, died at the Fisher Home in Amherst on January 17, 2022. Born in Washington D.C. on April 27, 1929, he was the son of Sumner Conrad Rowe and Gertrude Boyd Williams. Proud of his heritage, he was a direct descendant of Storm Vanderzee who arrived at New Amsterdam in 1636. Peter had one sibling, his younger brother David, who died in 2018.

Peter’s childhood was happy until his mother died when he was 13. His father was remarried several years later to an educated and energetic woman, Margaret Brewer, Dean of Women at Washington College, MD, who brought literature and theatre into his life. Poorly educated in the war years in public schools in Maryland, Peter went to Cornell University as a Teagle fellow, where he graduated in 1950 with Honors in English literature. He was drafted soon thereafter and spent the Korean War years in army intelligence in Germany.

Peter’s experience in Europe brought a change in academic preparation, leading to a Master of Arts in International Politics and Law at American University, earned at night while working for Radio Free Europe at the Library of Congress. He subsequently earned a PhD at Yale University in International Relations, followed by immediate employment in the Department of Government at Smith College. There he taught popular classes in American foreign policy, international politics, and international law for 42 years, and participated in the governance of the College through an array of committees. He was the faculty liaison for the rehabilitation of Seeyle Hall and the Brown Fine Arts Center. Peter had a very satisfying career at Smith, a remarkably well-governed liberal arts college, where he also enjoyed a large network of bright, compatible friends. Peter lectured at Smith Alumnae clubs across the United States and led Smith travel groups to Holland, Morocco, and India.

In 1961, Peter began a lifelong interest in India with a Fulbright grant to Osmania University, Hyderabad, where he earned a Certificate in Indian Civilization. In later trips to India, he conducted research and wrote papers on opposition politics and the role of law in Indian development. He taught politics of India at Wesleyan University and Amherst College and spent a summer at the University of Pennsylvania learning Hindi and Indian sociology. Another major interest was the Law of the Sea, which he taught and then advocated as the Law of the Sea Treaty. He also attended an Arms Control summer school program at Harvard.

Peter believed that his life was enriched as a citizen of Northampton. To belong to a city founded in the mid-17th century was to share the entire history of the political and economic history of the United States. Peter hoped that his participation in the Historical Commission, Historical Northampton, the Survival Center, trusteeship of Forbes Library, member of the Broad Brook Coalition, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Lathrop Communities was understood as measures of his love of Northampton.

Barbara Ray Carpenter, whom he had known since high school, was Peter’s lifelong companion, sharing with him a deep interest in European art and literature. They married in 1956, and were together for 57 years, until her death in 2013. For the remaining years of Peter’s life, he sorely missed her.

Following cremation, Peter’s ashes will be scattered in the Connecticut River in Northampton. At his request, there will be no memorial service.

Ahearn Funeral Home

Published by Daily Hampshire Gazette on Jan. 22, 2022.