Obituary: Peter Grieg Veeder / Outstanding volunteer fundraiser for multitude of nonprofit groups

Aug. 13, 1941 - Jan. 13, 2014

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Peter Grieg Veeder loved all things Pittsburgh, from its art galleries to its gridirons, from its museums to its academic halls.

"All the things that make Pittsburgh special interested him," said his wife of 48 years, Sybil Pickett Veeder. "He was a very quiet, low-keyed kind of guy, but he felt strongly about Pittsburgh and felt its organizations were very important and that people who could do so should support them."

And that's why Mr. Veeder, a lawyer by profession, became a volunteer fundraiser extraordinaire for all manner of nonprofits, believing the quality of the region's life depended upon its vitality. So successful and prolific was he that in 2005 he was given the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Western Pennsylvania Chapter.

Mr. Veeder of Oakland died Monday in Forbes Hospice of cancer. He was 72.

He was in the first graduating class at St. Edmund's Academy in 1955. He subsequently graduated from St. Mark's School of Southboro, Mass., Princeton University and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

He worked in the law department of U.S. Steel Corp. from 1966 to 1970, when he joined the law firm of Thorp, Reed and Armstrong as an associate, becoming a partner in 1974. He opened the firm's Washington office in the mid-1970s and was managing partner until the early 1980s, when he was elected to the firm's executive committee for several terms.

His specialty was environmental law, starting in this area of practice in 1970, and was selected by peers for "Best Lawyers in America" for more than 10 years.

But his passion was for more than the law, family and friends said. He served as a trustee of several nonprofit organizations, including St. Edmund's Academy, the Visiting Nurses Association, the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and for the last eight years, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh and the Carnegie Museum of Art. In all of these organizations and others, he was an active fundraiser.

"He loved raising funds for organizations he loved, and we were lucky enough to be one of those organizations. He was tireless in his efforts," said Dolly Ellenberg, vice president of development for Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. "He took his work so seriously. Fundraising isn't something everyone loves to do, but he was passionate about it."

So extraordinary was the work Mr. Veeder performed that he was asked to join the board of trustees in 2005. To further recognize his contributions, he was named a life trustee in 2011.

"He loved the museums," Ms. Ellenberg said. "I think he saw the potential of what could happen with funds. He didn't see it as asking for money but as an opportunity for people to do something wonderful for museums and the people who go to them."

Karen Petrucelli, a certified fundraising executive, got to know Mr. Veeder in 1999, when he was chairman of the fundraising committee at Carnegie Museums and she was working as a professional fundraiser there. Mr. Veeder's work as a volunteer was a revelation to her.

"What I remember is that he was such a genuine gentleman, very polite and well-mannered. He had this respect for development professionals that I had never experienced before," she said.

"When I think about him and about my career, he is the benchmark of what I expect a volunteer fundraiser to be. The way he treated development staff was one way [he stood out] and, secondly, he took on the role as volunteer as if it was his job and he applied the same principles you would in your profession. You don't always see that.

"We call philanthropy the love of human kind. Pete Veeder was the epitome of that," Ms. Petrucelli said.

He was a member of the American, Pennsylvania and Allegheny County bar associations, the Pittsburgh Golf Club, the Duquesne Club, the Allegheny HYP Club, the Rolling Rock Club and the Princeton Club of New York.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Sybil Wilson of Burlington, N.C., and Hillary Dietz of Doylestown, Bucks County.; a son, Gerrit Veeder of Darien, Conn.; a brother, James Marshall Veeder Jr. of Brevard, N.C.; and seven grandchildren.

Friends will be received at John A. Freyvogel Sons Funeral Home, 4900 Centre Ave., Shadyside, today from 4 to 7 p.m. A memorial service will be held at Third Presbyterian Church, 5701 Fifth Ave., Shadyside, Saturday at 11 a.m.

Memorial contributions may be made to Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, 4400 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh 15213, Attn: D.F. Ellenberg, or St. Edmund's Academy, 5705 Darlington Ave., Pittsburgh 15217.


Michael A. Fuoco: mfuoco@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1968.

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