Alumni Review — Spring 2013



Peter Dennis Yoder ’60

Peter Dennis Yoder ’60, whose varied career encompassed independent school teaching and administration as well as woodworking and home construction, was born on August 10, 1937, in New York City. The son of Theodore O., a public relations director, and Helen Potts Yoder, he grew up in Nashville, TN, and prepared for college at Westtown School, a Quaker academy in Pennsylvania. Pete Yoder enrolled at Hamilton in 1955, with a Tennessee “twang” still evident in his voice. He joined Theta Delta Chi, later serving as its house steward, and played varsity soccer. He also helped edit The Hamiltonian and served on the student curriculum committee. In 1957-58, he took a year off and found work in construction in Philadelphia, PA. On that job, he learned carpentry, a vocation to which he would return on more than one occasion in his later career.

Pete Yoder, who majored in philosophy, was graduated in 1960. Intent upon becoming a teacher, he moved to Maine where he had been married to Judith Ann Young the previous year. In Maine, he found employment teaching English and coaching soccer at Fryeburg Academy. In 1962, however, he returned to New York State and joined the faculty of Oakwood School in Poughkeepsie. From 1968 to 1971, he was assistant head and director of development at Poughkeepsie Day School.

Thereafter, his marriage having ended, Peter Yoder went back to Maine and moved into a one-room cabin with no running water or electricity that he had built in Penobscot. During that period of “roughing it,” he worked for Scott and Helen Nearing, the noted advocates of simple living, as well as for a craft cooperative. In 1973, he was wed to Carolyn A. Merriell.

In 1977, after four years as assistant administrator for Downeast Health Services in Ellsworth, ME, Peter Yoder took up woodworking again, making custom furniture and involved in home construction as co-founder of South Penobscot Wood Works. He returned to school administration in 1981 as headmaster of Adirondack Mountain School in Long Lake, NY (1981-82) and of Olney Friends School in Barnesville, OH (1982-85). In 1987, after two years as director of admissions at Morristown Friends School in New Jersey, he once again resumed woodworking and home construction. He retired in 2000.

An active community volunteer, Peter Yoder served on school boards and committees as well as on community action and health service boards. Influenced by the Nearings, he enjoyed organic gardening, and fly fishing and camping were also among his favorite pastimes. Working with wood remained an ever-constant activity, and as recently as 2007 he completed the last of his many construction projects, a new home in Penobscot.

Peter D. Yoder died at his home in Penobscot of a rare blood disorder on September 5, 2012. In addition to his wife of 39 years, he is survived by two sons and a daughter, Thomas and Theodore Yoder, and Jennifer DeJoy, from his previous marriage. Also surviving are five grandchildren and a sister.
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John Arthur Pettet ’61

John Arthur Pettet ’61, something of a world traveler and bon vivant who dabbled in entrepreneurship abroad, was born on February 17, 1939, in Westchester County, NY. The son of Arthur F., a corporation executive, and Evelyn Hobby Pettet, he grew up in Lincoln, RI, and prepared for college at Providence Country Day School. John Pettet entered Hamilton from Lincoln in 1957 and joined Sigma Phi. He sang with the Glee Club and contributed to productions of the Charlatans. Known for the Vespa in which he tooled around campus roads (“except for those near the dean’s office”), he overcame academic challenges and a time-consuming social life to graduate with his class, having majored in history, in 1961.

John Pettet immediately departed for a sojourn in Paris, the beginning of his adventures in Europe. Details of his activities are sketchy, but according to his newspaper obituary, he spent many years in Italy, especially Rome and Milan, where he and a friend founded “Lip Service,” a language school for foreigners who, for business purposes, wished to learn English quickly. At one time he was also reportedly a partner in a company that imported machinery from Italy to modernize the olive oil industry in Morocco.

Having returned to the United States in later years, John Pettet is remembered for his “love of architecture, opera, Broadway, books, horticulture and food, all enthusiastically shared with his many friends.” In 2000, he became a tour guide for the Preservation Society of Newport County in Rhode Island, where he enriched Newport mansion tours for international visitors with his easy command of French and Italian, as well as his engaging good humor.

John A. Pettet was residing in Fall River, MA, when he died on August 31, 2012, of complications following surgery for a heart condition. He is survived by a sister, Diane Altman, and a niece and a nephew.
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Contact Information

Stacey Himmelberger

Editor, Hamilton Alumni Review
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
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