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Peter Dunham

Southbury, Conn.

May 3, 1921 - December 7, 2011

Peter Dunham, 90, of Heritage Village, Southbury, Conn.; formerly of New Canaan, Conn., died Dec. 7, 2011.
Peter was born May 3, 1921 in Cedarhurst and graduated from Harvard University in 1943. During WWII he served as a navigator in the 8th Air Force based in England, flying B-17s over Europe.
Though he had been accepted to Harvard Business School in 1946, he decided to get married to Patricia Hopkinson instead. They moved to Costa Rica where he worked for TACA until the company went bankrupt and was sold to Waterman Steamship.
His second attempt at commercial success was with C. A. Rheinstrom, aviation consultants in New York City. Rheinstrom gave up his business to go into advertising in 1948. His third attempt at commercial success was with Florida Chemical Research, as sales manager and treasurer, both in New York and Sarasota, Fla.
He had the unique experience of attempting to sell portable toilets, known as Parathrones, door to door in trailer camps. This company gave up its manufacturing and selling activities to concentrate on basic odor research, for which kind of work he had little interest and no qualifications. He was not yet thirty and had three different companies in effect fold up under him.
The only course left open to him was to get with a company so large and so successful that it would take him an entire career to bring it to its knees. He joined J. Walter Thompson and worked there for twenty-five years including four years in Mexico, two in Canada, and two in England, rising to Senior Vice President. Somehow J. Walter Thompson survived Peter Dunham, which he considered a positive failure.
He still fit into his Harvard blazer when he turned 90, which says something about his health and conservative nature. He and Patricia raised two first rate human beings - a matter of considerable pride and joy. During WWII he learned that most of us really give a damn about our country and our freedom and he died still believing this.
Pistol Pete is survived by his wife, Patricia Dunham, his children, Pamela Dunham Ely and Peter Dunham, Jr. and his grandchildren, Amanda Dunham Ely and Peter Toomey Dunham.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Keene Valley Library, PO Box 86, Keene Valley, N.Y. 12943 or Southbury Public Library, 100 Poverty Rd, Southbury, Conn., 06488.