Block Island philanthropist Peter Holden Greenman dies at 88
Friday 08 October 2021
Peter Holden Greenman, 88, of Block Island, RI left this world better than he found it on October 2, 2021 with his loving wife, Sandra, and other family members by his side.
Born in Concord, Massachusetts on April 1, 1933, Peter attended Phillips Exeter Academy and graduated from Middlebury College, where he met Sandra the first week of school when he asked if he could walk her home afterwards. a press club meeting. That was 69 years ago and they tied the knot the week after graduation.
Peter often referred to his life in chapters and there were many of them. Middlebury, serving in the Army in Texas, raising his family in Cohasset, MA, 30 years of banking in Boston, sailing, skiing, cycling, trips to Ireland and helping his family achieve their dreams who have taken her two children around the world several times.
Peter’s favorite chapter was The Last 27 Years. He and Sandra lived full time on Block Island, where they hosted generations of friends, family and barber shop singers, baked over 1,700 Irish soda breads. [really], and where he dedicated his life to his beloved island community, giving it to the next and loving your neighbor. There was the amorous restoration of their pre-1850 home and the research and writing of the genealogies of his extended family as well as island families: Rose, Sheffield, Mott, Mitchell, Payne and Lewis. Peter and Sandy sang at Barbershop festivals, the Ecumenical Choir that took Peter and Sandra to Vienna, and with Everett and Verna Littlefield as grandmothers and grandfathers … and that was just getting started.
Peter was a dedicated and tireless philanthropist and gave of his time, talent and treasure as often as he could. He has dedicated countless hours volunteering for the Block Island Conservancy and has been instrumental in the preservation of Mitchell Farm. For over 20 years, Peter “walked” with Adrian’s army, helping to maintain Block Island’s Greenway trails. He coordinated blood drives for 27 years (for which he was honored by New Shoreham City Council in 2021). Peter has also supported and volunteered for the Mary D Fund, Block Island Volunteer Fire & Rescue, Island Skateboard Park, Save Rebecca, The Block Island Historical Society and many other causes. One of Peter’s most treasured accomplishments was organizing the Walk to End Alzheimer’s Disease on Block Island in honor of Sandra who has Alzheimer’s disease. In 2020, Peter was the # 1 fundraiser in the state of Rhode Island and one of the top 100 fundraisers in the United States. All fundraising was done using an old-fashioned handwritten lettering campaign. Peter’s Herculean effort to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease has made a difference as we all fight for the first survivor.
Peter leaves a boundless void in the hearts of his 65-year-old wife and best friend Sandra, son Chris and wife Kate, daughter Sally and husband Jay, granddaughters Eliza Burlingame and husband Andrew, Emma Culver and her husband Robert, and grand-grandson Ned Culver and Jack Burlingame. Special thanks to their neighbors, Tim and Tony Fox, Peter and Sandra’s “other sons” and their families for their love, support and friendship over the years, and to countless friends from Block Island to Ireland with whom he corresponded regularly.
Peter also loved his 1979 green Volkswagen bus, which he considered “family” and drove until his last day on the island. The Bus, along with Peter and Sandy, rose to fame last summer when a professional photographer captured them as they watched the waves crash into North Light, a regular adventure they shared many afternoons. With their permission, the moment was posted on social media and “went viral,” quickly receiving over a million views.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, October 23, 2021 at St. Andrew’s Church, 23 Chapel Street, Block Island at 12:30 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to Block Island Volunteer Fire and Rescue, PO Box 791, Block Island, RI 02807; the Mary D. Fund, PO Box 323, Block Island, RI 02807; or the Alzheimer’s Association, Block Island-RI Walk, 245 Waterman St, Suite 306, Providence, RI 02906 and the Peter and Sandy referral team.