Keller 63's remarks about Peter Friend 63, made at the
dedication in fall 2001:
Making a tribute to a Friend
Printed here is the text of the speech delivered by Dennis Keller
'63 at the dedication of the Friend Center for Engineering Education.
"Thank you, Shirley. It will be hard to tell you just how happy
this day, and this striking, inviting, and useful building have
made me, but I'm going to try. First, I have to tell you a little
bit about Peter.
It starts in Hinsdale, Ill., in 1941, when Peter beat me home from
the maternity ward by about three months. That began a patternand
for the next 21 years Peter seemed to stay about three jumps ahead
but he always let me come along with him. In the beginning,
our houses were about 500 feet apart. When we were three years old,
I moved about six blocks away. But I was back at Peter's house often,
for lots of reasons, including the fact that his mom was our cub
scout den mother.
As we grew up, Peter set the pacein academics, in leadership,
and in plain and simple goodness. He wasn't too goodhe could
be mischievous and had a great sense of humor. In 8th grade, Peter's
slogan in the race for the presidency of the junior high, which
he won, was "a friend in need is Friend indeed! But he always
set a good example. Somehow, he was mature beyond his years, and
he had wonderful judgment.
Let me give you one example of his judgmentone that I will
never forget. In the spring of our senior year in high school, we
both had been admitted to Yale and to Princeton. Days before the
decision date, we flew east for one last visit to both schools.
We spent a day on each campus, and then, as we settled in on the
train to start on our trip back to the airport, Peter looked at
me and said, "I know where I'm going next year." "Oh?
Where is that?" I said. "Princeton," he said. "Then
I guess I'll go there, too," I said. See what I mean about
really good judgment?
I always counted on Peter to set the right example. But no example
was more powerful, or long lasting, for me and for many others who
grew up with Peter than the example he gave us during our high school
During our freshman year, Peter's father died. Then in the fall
of our senior year, Peter's mother was diagnosed with inoperable
cancer. Peter was at her bedside every day after school, doing his
homework and just being with her, until she died the following February.
Somehow, he found reserves of strength and purpose to continue his
work, and continue being good and helpful to others through a period
that would have been totally devastating to many 18-year-olds. When
we graduated, he was valedictorian and won awards in music and citizenship
and leadership - becoming the most honored graduate in the history
of Hinsdale Township High School. In a very personal sense, the
lessons he taught by example during this period of perseverance
and resolve and helping others have stayed with me and will stay
with me through the rest of my life.
At Princeton, Peter was a history major, bound for law school and
a career that I knew would include a significant amount of public
service. We were roommates, and in the fall of our junior year we
decided to get into business, and we cofounded the Princeton Student
Pizza Agency. For many reasons this is a wonderful business. I'm
sure the fact that it¦s still the largest student agency on campus
would be as pleasing to Peter as it is to me.
Then in the spring of our junior year, Peter was killed in an accident.
During the year after his death a scholarship memorial was created
in his name, and hundreds of people in Hinsdale and here contributed
to an endowment that now provides a $20,000 scholarship every year
for an outstanding graduate of Hinsdale High School. Over the 38
years that this award has been given, many of the Peter Winston
Friend Scholars have attended Princeton.
So while there has long been a scholarship foundation in Hinsdale
to tell the inspirational story of Peter's life, now there is a
place at Princeton which will also celebrate and remember Peter's
strength of character, his accomplishment, and his goodness. And
this place will help the University I love take better care of generations
of its 21st-century students, especially the AB's who will come
over to join Peter, the history major, to learn how technology can
be helpful to them, and how they can use it to help the world.
And that is why this day, and this beautiful place, have made me
so inexpressibly happy. It's crystal clear to me that I am the one
who has received the greatest gift today...and I thank all of you
very much for being here to help me celebrate.