Peter Thigpen, who was loved and admired by all who knew him, passed away on Sunday, November 5th at the age of 78. His was a life well lived, and he leaves behind friends and family who will always cherish the memories of this wonderful man. He touched us all with his grace, his humor, his knowledge, and most of all, his compassion. He will be sorely missed. As one of his closest friends said, "Pete taught me how to live, but not how to live without him." This resonates will all who knew him.
Pete was born on September 18, 1939 in Pasadena, California. He attended San Mateo High School, then attended Stanford University and majored in Economics, graduating in 1961. Pete felt strongly about mandatory community service for all, whether in the military or otherwise. Therefore, while at Stanford he enlisted in the Marine Corps Officers program, proudly graduating in his dress whites. He rose to the rank of 1st Lieutenant, spending most of his military career as a radar intercept officer (RIO) on F-4B's catapulting on and off aircraft carriers. He was honorably discharged in 1964 and went back to Stanford Graduate School where he obtained his MBA and began a successful career in the private sector. He was quick to tell you the Marine Corps defined him forever, from his stellar leadership skills to his selfless sense of putting others before himself.
His business career began with a short stint at PG&E and then a run as a stockbroker at Dean Witter. But when he joined Levi Strauss & Co. in 1967, his career blossomed. He began as a low level executive and rapidly rose through the ranks to ultimately become the President of the European Division, headquartered in Brussels, where he lived with his wife Judith and their three sons, Craig, Eric and Chad. Pete was responsible for the incredible growth of the Levi's brand throughout Europe during the 70's and early 80's. He returned to the States holding a number of senior executive positions including President of Levi Strauss, USA and a seat on the board of Levi Strauss & Co. Pete was an instrumental part of the Levi family until he retired in 1991.
In 1986, Pete married Shelly Glueck, and they moved to Marin County where they eventually made Kent Woodlands their home and raised their son Zach, born in 1989. Pete made Zach his new job. He was a room parent, field trip driver, coach, and his favorite job, head lice checker. He thought he volunteered for "head light" checker. During these years Pete was affectionately referred to as "Mr. Mom," which was possibly his most revered job title.
Upon his retirement from Levi Strauss & Co. Pete showed no signs of slowing down. He served on the Kentfield School Board, a founding contributor of the Good Life Seminar, and Senior Fellow, participant and moderator at The Aspen Institute, a well-known international think tank, which satisfied his need to discuss all things philosophical. There was no subject that didn't interest Pete Thigpen, whether it was a dissertation of existentialism or a laser-like obsessive analysis of fantasy football. He was a true Renaissance man, a lover of conversation, fine wine, classical music and golf, and never tired of learning.
Or teaching. For the past 25 years, Pete taught a class on Business Ethics at the prestigious Haas School of Business at the University of California. It was a subject dear to his heart, and he took great pride in creating ethical dilemmas for his students and watching and listening as they struggled to do the right thing. His ethical standards were above reproach, and he was eager to teach others what had worked so beautifully for him.
He leaves behind adoring friends, his loving wife Shelly, brothers Steve and Jeff (Mary Ellen) and sons Craig (Sarah), Eric, Chad (Althea) and Zach, grandchildren Lucas, Jacob, Camille, Bryce, 5 nieces & nephews, and his two fur-children Fred and Barney.
"Believe in your heart of hearts that your fundamental purpose, your reason for being is to enlarge the lives of others, your life will be enlarged. And all the other things we have been taught to concentrate on will take care of themselves" – Pete Thigpen
A Celebration of Life open house will be held from 1:00 – 4:00 on December 2, 2017 at Ondine Restaurant, 558 Bridgeway, Sausalito.
In lieu of flowers please honor Pete in the form of a donation to Reach Out & Read
Published by San Francisco Chronicle from Nov. 10 to Nov. 12, 2017.