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Remembering Peter Workman

April 10, 2013


Trickle Up lost a good friend this week.  Peter Workman, a generous donor since 2004, died of brain cancer at the age of 74.

We often tell the stories of Trickle Up participants but rarely share the stories of those who make our work possible.  So I want to take a moment to tell you about Peter, whom I first met in 2001 when his company published my wife’s book about philanthropy, “Rambam’s Ladder.”  When I joined Trickle Up, I was delighted to see that Peter had become a supporter via an introduction from our board member Alan Patricof.

Peter was an entrepreneur who founded the highly successful Workman Publishing Co.  Chances are that you may have read at least one of their books, such as “What To Expect When You are Expecting,” “Brain Quest,” a Sandra Boynton children’s book, “Water for Elephants” or one of their dozens or calendars or cookbooks.  It was always a treat to visit Peter at his office, both for the genuine interest he took in Trickle Up and his invitation to take as many books as I’d like.

Peter also was a man who cared deeply about justice and expanding opportunity for those who weren’t born into it.  Among the causes he supported were Goddard-Riverside Community Center, Prep for Prep, Human Rights Watch and the ACLU.  The cause that was closest to his heart was David Workman Grant Program at his alma mater Deerfield Academy.  In memory of his younger brother, Peter established the program to help students fund and implement their own humanitarian projects.

In October 2007, Peter invited me to come with him to Deerfield to meet with the students, talk about Trickle Up and perhaps inspire one or more to make service an important part of their lives.  It was a three-hour drive each way.  Peter sometimes came off as a bit of absent-minded professor, and I was a bit nervous about spending that much time with someone who had been only a casual acquaintance.  The ride turned out to be a most memorable day, which he extended towards the end of the trip as we approached City Island.  Unexpectedly, he pulled toward the exit lane and asked, “Want to stop for a lobster and a beer?” Even after hearing my presentation to his students and a lot of conversation during the ride to and from Deerfield, he spent most of our meal asking about Trickle Up and talking about public service.

You can read about Peter’s life at:

Trickle Up is fortunate to have people like Peter join us in our work.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 15, 2013 4:16 pm

    This makes me very happy. I knew Peter as a journalist’s subject (I profiled him for the Wall Street Journal) and as one of his authors, but not outside of these realms. He was an amazing man who will not be forgotten.

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