It is with great sadness I announce that our beloved friend Peter Gruber (1929-2014) passed away on Saturday October 18, 2014. Peter passed away peacefully at his home with his beloved wife Patricia by his side.
Peter’s life is monumental. He touched so many people and lit a flame that burned brightly in so many hearts, across continents, across cultures, across time.
Peter’s story is a hero’s journey. That the incredible circumstances of his life created such a kind and generous person, Peter’s life is a testament to the power of wisdom and compassion. He was born into a Jewish family in Hungary in 1929. During the Nazi invasion of Hungary in 1938, his family fled to Calcutta, India. In India, Peter was sent to Jesuit and Irish Christian Brothers schools in Mussoorie and Darjeeling. While there, at a very impressionable age, after enduring incredible circumstances escaping his homeland, Peter was introduced to Buddhist meditation and philosophy. These early experiences made a deep impression on Peter that would manifest throughout his life.
After finishing boarding school Peter went to university in Australia and then moved to the United States. He started his career in a small investment house on Wall Street and then served in the U.S. Army Finance Corps. After service, he returned to Wall Street. Shortly thereafter, he founded the Oriental Studies Foundation, which sought to publish English translations of Tibetan Buddhist works. One of his publications, still in print, was The One Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa, translated from the Tibetan by Garma C.C. Chang. These works influenced an entire generation in the 1950s in America.
Peter went on to an extraordinarily successful career in finance. He was a pioneer in emerging markets and is credited with breaking open investing in Latin America.
In 1993, he and his wife Patricia established what has today become The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, and The Gruber Foundation (at Yale). His philanthropy was just like his business acumen – visionary. The Gruber Foundation (at Yale) administers the the Gruber Prizes. These extremely generous prizes honor the individual as the source of excellence. Rather than giving to many small projects, Peter and Patricia give to a small number of projects that have a big impact.