Peter C. Markham
On Saturday, August 22, 2020, Peter Cullen Markham, husband of 65 years, proud father and acute observer of life, passed away at the age of 87.
Peter was born on April 5, 1933, in Fitchburg, MA to Stephen and Anne (Peterson) Markham. The family of six grew up in Fitchburg. Peter attended St. John’s Prep School, where he was a scholar and an athlete, winning a state medal in the 440-yard dash. Disregarding prestige, he turned down Harvard to attend Middlebury College in Vermont where the skiing was better. He majored in literature and in 1955 married his college sweetheart, Lynn Fisher. After Peter’s two years in the Navy, he and Lynn settled in Lunenburg, MA, where they lived their life together and raised three children. Over his career, he worked in sales and advertising for various newspapers, leveraging his strength in making connections and maintaining relationships.
Lynn and Peter dealt in fine federal furniture and many of their purchases are now on display at local museums. Peter leveraged his expertise in American history in their trade. He meticulously researched the provenance of valuable pieces using his library which contains every furniture textbook ever written. He read them all cover to cover and took great pride in having even read all the footnotes. In the margins of these texts, you will now find his notes, which contain all of his “necessary corrections,” and often simply the word “wrong.” Over the years, as pieces came up at auction, he could look at a picture in Arts and Antiques Weekly, instantly identify where the piece was made and by whom and prove his point by quoting the page of similar examples from his books, which were piled high at the foot of his chair.
Peter always welcomed additional people and pets into the family and generously shared everything he owned. He brought home abandoned kittens and people needing a friend. He loved children for their candor and eagerness to explore. He coached Biddy League basketball, where his rule was “every kid plays every game,” and supported Golden Gloves Boxing. His unique style of fatherhood was like a camp counselor overseeing activities that stretched the bravery of children to develop character. He got everyone up at dawn for the opening day of fishing season, played hit-the-bat and kick-the-can with neighborhood kids, found ever steeper and faster hills for tobogganing, taught his children and their cousins to waterski and tube, taught the kids to shoot, allowed the kids to leap off tall cliffs into a lake and after setting the kids loose in a kayak, he let them go miles downriver alone – waiting for them at a dam where he had told them most importantly “to keep right and don’t go over it.” He was sparse with words or praise, but his twinkle, laugh and smile were understood by all children as total acceptance. His single instruction was often, “OK, go ahead, just don’t tell Ma.”
Though his vision and mobility declined late in life, Peter always kept current on world news, pop culture, the standing of every Boston sports team and the events in the lives of his people. In his smaller world, he read avidly, mastered expert Sudoku and in winter predicted the outcome of “icicle races” playing outside the window by his favorite chair. If he lost a tooth, he stashed it in one of his suit pockets to create mystery and amusement for a future person who might inherit that suit.
Peter is survived by his daughters, Stephanie (partner Larry Wilson) and Catherine (partner Greg Muldowney), his son Peter (wife Joanna), his sister Ann O’Connor and several nieces and nephews.
A brief graveside service for family and close friends will be held at St. Bernard’s Cemetery in Fitchburg at 11 a.m., Thursday, August 27, 2020.
In lieu of flowers, Peter would suggest you take some special people out for ice cream. And maybe even order his favorite – “female strawberry sundae (cherry, no nuts).”
The Lunenburg Chapel of the Sawyer-Miller-Masciarelli Funeral Homes, 763 Mass Avenue, Lunenburg, MA has been entrusted with Mr. Markham’s funeral arrangements.
Please visit our website to leave a condolence and for further information (www.masciarelifamilyfuneralhomes.net)
John F. Masciarelli and Walter C. Taylor funeral directors.
To send flowers to Peter's family, please visit our floral store.