The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death of former WHOI Trustee and Member of the Corporation Peter Arthur Aron on July 14, 2023. He was 77. Peter was an active and generous supporter for many years at WHOI, contributing greatly to the success of the organization – specifically through the Deep Ocean Ridge Exploration Fund, the Ocean Exploration Endowment, and the Science Fund. As a former Trustee and Member of the Corporation, he was pivotal in the efforts of Advancement.
After his graduation from Tulane University (B.A. 1969), Peter continued a long tradition of family patriotism, following his great-grandfather, Hermann (who fought for the Union at Vicksburg during the Civil War) and his father, Jack (who was a U.S. Naval Officer in World War II). Peter served two years in Vietnam as a 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Department of Defense Joint Service Commendation Medal for meritorious Vietnam service, among other decorations.
Brilliant, widely read and highly accomplished, Peter applied himself to countless philanthropic efforts. He inherited a love of the sea and maritime activities; he founded and served for 20 years as President of the South Street Seaport Foundation (NY). He also served for more than 30 years as Trustee and 10 years as Chairman of the South Street Seaport Museum (NY). During that time, he and his father acquired and supported the restoration of the 4-masted bark “Peking”. He was a Trustee and Corporation Member at WHOI and Chairman of its board’s Deep Ocean Exploration Committee.
In 2005, Peter spearheaded a family gift in honor of his father to the Library of America’s Guardians of American Letters Fund to ensure that Richard Henry Dana’s “Two Years Before the Mast and other Voyages” would be kept in print. In 2008, the National Maritime Historical Society awarded him its annual David A. O’Neil Sheet Anchor Award for his support of maritime history and preservation projects. Peter was dedicated to education.
A 1965 graduate of Avon Old Farms School (CT), he served as a Director and Chairman of the Board for over 40 years. At Tulane University he served as Vice Chairman of the Board of Administrators, Chairman of its Faculty and Student Affairs Committee, and a member of the Development Committee. Tulane recognized him as the University’s Distinguished Alumnus in 2000. He also served as a Trustee and Board Officer of The Episcopal School and the Brearley School in New York City.
Peter perpetuated his family’s extensive commitment to the field of medicine. He served as Trustee, Vice Chairman of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York (1975-2003), and Honorary Life Trustee. He was also a Board Member of the Tulane University Medical Center in New Orleans. He was a Director and Vice President of the National Neurofibromatosis Foundation, Chairman of its Advisory Council, and a major supporter of research to discover the NF gene-for which he received a Public Service award in 1994. He was a recipient of the Distinguished Trustee award from the United Hospital Foundation in 1995 and was named Man of the Year by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in 1998. He was actively involved in arts and letters.
He advised and supported the Asia Society, as Trustee, Vice Chairman and Chairman of the Friends of Asian Art, and Honorary Life Trustee. He was a member of the Brooklyn Museum Asian Art Council. As a member of the Japanese Art Society of America, he was a major supporter of its award-winning, peer-reviewed journal “Impressions.” Peter was a founding supporter of the “Imagine Solutions Conference” in Naples, Florida.
Following the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, Peter suggested and funded a commission by the New York Philharmonic to memorialize this tragic event. The resulting work, John Adams’s, “On the Transmigration of Souls,” premiered at Avery Fisher Hall in September 2002 and was awarded the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for music. Peter was a dedicated community servant and a lifetime resident of Kings Point, NY. He served for over 20 years as an elected Trustee and Committee Chairman for the Village of Kings Point. He was an astute businessman and investor, serving as an Independent Trustee for Fiduciary Trust International Open-end Mutual Funds; Assistant Vice President of J. Aron & Co. of NY (1971-1981); Director of William B. Reily & Co., Inc. (N.O.) President of Ridgefield Inc., since 1998 (LA); Director and Vice President of J. Aron & Co., Inc. (LA); Vice President, Board member and valued senior advisor of Lafayette Enterprises, Inc. (1983-2023). He was elected to Who’s Who in America (1998). He was a member of Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity at Tulane University; The University Club (NY); The Union Club (NY); The New York Yacht Club; The Naples Sailing and Yacht Club (FL); The Knickerbocker Yacht Club (NY); The School of Design (N.O.); Conferie Chevalier du Tastevin (N.O.); and the Chaine des Rôtisseurs (FL).
Peter was an avid reader and bibliophile. Over the years he satisfied many other interests, including becoming a licensed helicopter pilot, a certified open water scuba diver, an accomplished sailor and photographer. He enjoyed the opera and symphony, and collected Asian art, maritime art, antique tools, and farm implements. One of his greatest joys was participating in Mardi Gras every year in New Orleans where he was a member of the Krewe of Rex, Hermes, Bacchus, and Mystic. Love of his family, friends, and a desire to be of service to his community were always the essential features of his character. He cherished his relationships and despite his many interests and accomplishments, Peter’s true love and commitment were reserved for his family and its future. His sense of humor, humility, generosity, loyalty, and devotion benefited everyone he knew.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 51 years, Erika Kostron Aron of Naples, FL, and Kings Point, NY; by his two loving daughters; Heather Schulman, son-in-law Ross, and four grandchildren of Naples, FL; and Holly Okner, son-in-law Martin, and two grandchildren of Manhattan, NY; and by his brother Robert Aron. His sister Jacqueline predeceased him. Peter was the son of the late Jack R. Aron and Jane Baerwald Aron.
A memorial service and celebration of his life for family and close friends will be held on July 27, 2023. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made, in Peter’s memory, to the J. Aron Charitable Foundation, Inc., of which he was President and Executive Director for over 40 years, 100 Jericho Quadrangle #214; Jericho, NY 11753 (annual report is available from the Foundation and from the New York Attorney General’s Charities Bureau).
Information for this obituary is from the The Times-Picayune.
Information for this obituary is from the The Times-Picayune.