Web Exclusives:PawPlus

May 15, 2002

Scenes from a campus

Friend Center for Engineering (Pei Cobb Fried and Partners, 2001)
Academic building

For a story about the center's dedication, click here.

Dennis 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 pattern‹and 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 pace‹in academics, in leadership, and in plain and simple goodness. He wasn't too good‹he 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 judgment‹one 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 years.

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 its 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.