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  • "May you celebrate a life well-lived and cherish the many..."
    - G.
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Harding "Pete" Lemay, born March 16, 1922, died peacefully on May 26, 2018 at 96 years of age. The many friends and colleagues from his long and storied life mourn his passing. We knew him as a gentle and loving man of remarkable accomplishment and humanity. And we knew him as a great romantic. Our hearts go out to his beloved widow, Gloria Gardner. Playwright, teacher, memoirist, editor, and an early pioneer of television soap operas, he is said to have single- handedly written almost every episode of Another World from 1971-79 as head writer. He won a Daytime Emmy for that show and another for Guiding Light. Born into rural poverty, as the fifth of thirteen children near his mother's St. Regis Mohawk Indian reservation in North Bangor, New York, he escaped his parents' alcoholism and his father's suicide by running away to New York City at age 17, finding early refuge at the famous Brace Memorial Newsboys' Home. After Army service in World War II took him to France and Germany at the end of the war, he entered the Neighborhood Playhouse on the GI Bill to become an actor. By the mid-fifties, he was deeply ensconced in the world of books and publishing, He was co-host with Virgilia Peterson of a WNYC radio program Books in Profile leading to working at Alfred A. Knopf in 1958 as Publicity Director. He became Vice President and editor working with Elizabeth Bowen, John Updike, John Cheever. His ground-breaking memoir, Inside, Looking Out, Harper's Magazine Press (1971) was dubbed "an American classic" by Newsweek and "a literary event" by Saturday Review. It was nominated for a national book award for biography. A second memoir, Eight Years In Another World (Atheneum) was published in 1981. His deepest passion was for playwriting. He entered New Dramatists, the NYC playwrights laboratory, in 1963 along with John Guare and Lanford Wilson, where he became a long-serving board member. His 13 plays were first presented in readings and workshops at New Dramatists and featured his longtime friend and collaborator Marian Seldes. A devoted teacher, he taught literature and drama for many years at Hunter College and The New School for Social Research. As part of the Pen American Prison Writing Program, he read dozens of plays a year by incarcerated men and women. His first marriage, to actress Priscilla Amidon, ended in divorce. His second wife, Dorothy Shaw, died in 1994. He is survived by his wife of 20 years, Gloria Gardner of New York City; his son, Stephen Lemay and daughter, Susan Pain, and son-in-law, Kevin Pain; and three grandchildren.

Published in The New York Times on July 4, 2018
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