March 3, 2011
Dear Signet Community,
The Signet Society, like much of the University and a great many people all over the world, mourns the loss of our friend the Reverend Peter Gomes. I write this after returning from the Memorial Church, where his body lies today for a visiting hours stretching between morning prayers at 9:45 and compline at 10 pm. Many, many of us have knelt beside his casket to say a prayer and to reflect on Peter’s wonderful gifts.
Peter Gomes loved the Signet. He was for a long time President of the Signet Associates, the Society’s governing board, and he contributed in many ways, over many years, to look out for the Hive and the life of the Society. The handsome ecclesiastical-looking bookcases on either side of the door to the library are a part of his legacy, along with rugs, other furniture, and much else.
Most importantly, in the 1980s he led the effort that created an endowment and renovated our house. With Myra Mayman, he conducted a very successful capital campaign that has allowed the Society to survive in these difficult times. And he was committed to the social aspects of the Society—it is his instructions that we read every year at the annual dinner about the proper way to pass the loving cup in order to drink to The Society. And we will read them, with deep affection, long into the future.
Without Peter’s leadership and unflagging devotion, the Signet Society would not be what it is today. The Associates are considering ways in which we may mark his presence at the Signet for generations to come.
For now, the Signet Society proposes to honor Peter’s memory in two ways. First, we propose to publish a small volume of reminiscences by Signet alumni and associates. Please send any reminiscences or comments you may have to our Secretary, Mark Hruby <email@example.com>, or post to http://www.signetsociety.org/in-memory-of-reverend-gomes/ for possible inclusion in such a volume. We don’t promise to print everything, but we would particularly like words about Peter and the Signet. We may also share, with permission of authors, early submissions with the rest of the Signet community in our mid-March Alumni Buzz e-newsletter.
Secondly, we had already planned to honor Peter with a portrait that would hang in the Society’s Library. I discussed this with Peter a few weeks ago, and he was as joyful as a little child at the thought. We booked him as our special guest at the 2012 Annual Dinner, expecting that we would unveil the portrait on that occasion, with him present.
Alas, he will not be present, but we will unveil the portrait anyway. The distinguished painter (and Signet Associate) Stephen Coit had agreed to create the portrait, and in a conversation today he assures me that he is committed to seeing it through. So we will honor the memory of Peter Gomes at the April 28, 2012 Annual Dinner with the unveiling of a portrait, and the publication of a small volume of reminiscences. Please try to be with us on that occasion.
And if you have any photographs of Peter Gomes, especially ones connecting him to the Signet, please consider sharing a copy with the Signet—they are needed for the portrait effort, and might well contribute to a little show of photos.
We mourn one of the Signet’s great champions. May he rest in peace.
Thomas Forrest Kelly
Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music
President, Signet Associates
PS. Among the many newspapers publishing obituaries of Reverend Gomes are the Harvard Gazette
(http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/03/rev-peter-j-gomes-dies-at-68/) and Harvard Crimson