DUBLIN - Peter Meldrim Hewitt, formerly of Dublin, a retired banker with the heart of a jazz musician, and a beloved member of every community he joined, died in Peterborough, on Feb. 15, 2014.
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Mr. Hewitt was easily recognized anywhere he went, and warmly greeted everywhere. His tall and lean (not to say spindly) figure might have been a textbook image of a New England Yankee, down to his well-worn shoes. But the long Yankee visage often broke into a toothy grin or outright guffaw-he was known for his warmth, humor, unfailing kindness, and courtesy. His unquestioned integrity made him a valued member of several boards, while his musical gifts made him an indispensable part of a jazz combo, his church choir, or the regular sing-a-long at Rivermead, the retirement home where he had lived since 2004. One friend called him "a walking encyclopedia of jazz in a Brooks Brothers suit."
Peter Hewitt was born in Boston on June 14, 1926 to Erastus Henry Hewitt, a lawyer, and the former Jane Meldrim of Savannah, Georgia. The family lived in Cambridge, Mass., where Peter attended Browne & Nichols School, graduating in 1944 as class president and stroke of the varsity crew. Admitted to Harvard, he spent three weeks in the Class of 1948 but was called to serve in the U.S. Army Air Force. Mr. Hewitt liked to say that he played "combat piano"-his chief Army duty was on keyboards in the band of the 558th Army Air Force Band, part of the occupation forces on Okinawa.
From the military, he returned to Harvard, graduating in the Class of 1950. After college he went to work in the machine tool industry, ultimately joining Brown & Sharpe in Providence, R.I. Though he was always interested in machines, from church organs to motor cars, he was by nature a "people person," and in 1969 moved to the trusts and estates department of Rhode Island Hospital Trust National Bank (now Bank of America).
Mr. Hewitt retired to Dublin in 1985, where he worked part-time for the Northfield Mount Hermon School as Director of Planned Giving. A deep believer in the value of community, he became a stalwart member of the Dublin Community Church, where his deep voice and steady presence helped anchor the choir. His reflective turn of mind often expressed itself in pieces he wrote for the Dublin Advocate. At Rivermead, too, he threw himself into community life, often playing for musical gatherings there.
His love of music was the unifying thread of Peter Hewitt's long life. From his childhood years he was rarely without a jazz band; he was also classically trained and knowledgeable about all forms of piano music. One summer, when the young Hewitt was a guide at Tanglewood, the conductor Leonard Bernstein discovered his talent at the keyboard and brought him to a jazz seminar with several other luminaries. A photo of that session, showing Mr. Hewitt playing for Bernstein and an approving Eubie Blake, appeared in DownBeat magazine and became a treasured memento. At Harvard, he performed with and arranged songs for the famous Krokodiloes singing group; some of his arrangements are still in the group's repertoire.
He was also a devoted husband, father, and grandfather. Mr. Hewitt was predeceased by his first wife, Luan Schoepf Hewitt , and his second wife, Mary Stewart Hewitt. He is survived by his sister, Jane Hewitt Tierney, daughters, Susan Hill Hewitt, Emily Hewitt Rhinelander, Caroline Meldrim Hewitt; six grandchildren, and his companion and dear friend, Susanne Holcombe.
A memorial service in his honor will be held at the Dublin Community Church on March 22, 2014 at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family has suggested donations to the Buckingham, Browne & Nichols School, the Dublin (NH)Community Church, or the American Red Cross.
Jellison Funeral Home and Cremation Services is assisting the family with arrangements. To view an online obituary, or to leave the family a condolence, please visit www.jellisonfuneralhome.com.
Jellison Funeral Home
25 Concord Street Peterborough, NH 03458
Published in The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript on Feb. 25, 2014