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Meet George Peter
October 21, 1921 - August 10, 2008
Just mention his name and you’ll get instant recognition; he’s a household word in the Cornell Community.
An Ithaca native, George Peter graduated from Ithaca High School in 1940, and within a couple of years was in the Army Air Corps, where he completed training courses and served as an instructor. He came to Cornell in 1947, as an electronics technician, and over the years took on increasingly more responsibility while auditing courses leading to the equivalent of a BS in electrical engineering.
When he retired, George was director of laboratory operations for the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center in the Department of Astronomy. One of George’s major work efforts was his on-site participation in the development and construction of the world’s largest radio/radar telescope at Aricebo, Puerto Rico, from 1960–62.
Upon his return to Ithaca in 1963, he established and directed a research and development laboratory for specialized, low-noise radio astronomy receiver and antenna systems. George also developed and taught courses in advanced electronics (for students including technicians, junior engineers, and grad students), wrote technical articles and training materials, and did guest lecturing. On the side, he was the owner/operator of a local TV and appliance sales and service business from 1952–1960 and from 1962–1968.
George was very active in Cornell University self-governance for an extended period. He served on the Cornell Senate Executive Committee from 1970–74, chaired the University as an Employer Committee (1975), and has served as the Employee-elected Trustee on the Cornell University Board of Trustees for a total of five terms since 1975. While a trustee, George received assignments on several trustee and community committees and commissions on the Executive Committee of the board from 1984–1996. He even had the distinction of being on two Cornell presidential search committees.
Back in 1980, George was a founder of and served on the editorial board of Cornell’s employee newspaper PawPrint (formerly known as Networking). Throughout, he contributed to the newspaper a bylined column known as “Leadership Leads.” His columns have been collected and recently published in a book of the same name. In fact, George was honored at a reception hosted by Cornell Vice President Mary Opperman and the Office of Human Resources to celebrate the completion of his book. Other Cornell accomplishments in which George took pride included his role in helping to start the Cornell Recreation Club (now Cornell Recreation Connection) and the annual Employee Day events.
On the civic scene, George had a long, continuing record of involvement and leadership in several areas of interest. An active Freemason on the local and state levels, he was Past Master of Ithaca’s Hobasco Lodge and the Scipio Lodge near his home in Aurora. Further, he held several offices in district and conference level Masonic organizations. He has been Grand Historian for the Grand Lodge of the State of New York since 1993 - a natural one might conclude, from his aptitude and desire for writing-“for recreation” he says. George has written a number of articles for Masonic publications, including reviews, leadership and training guides, historical accounts, and public relations materials.
George held several responsibilities in the First Baptist Church of Ithaca, organized and chaired the “Aurora Fest” celebration (1974–76), chaired the Aurora Village Planning Board, and served as a trustee of the Southern Cayuga Scholarship Foundation. One of his most rewarding accomplishments was the completion of the Morgan Opera House restoration project, a hands-on labor of love for a small, but dedicated, group of Aurora villagers.