Recent Obituaries
In Memoriam Archive

Maurice (Peter) Groat ’53

October 5, 2022, in Petaluma, California, at home.

Born in Red Wing, Minnesota, Pete was a proud Swede who learned to row a boat alone on the Mississippi River when he was eight years old, overseen from a distance by his beloved grandfather.

As a young adult, he worked at a foundry in Portland and remained grateful for this experience of that gritty, muscular work. He sang “The Internationale” with gusto at his 92nd birthday party.

At Reed, he met Jenny Hunter, who would become his wife. Through 50 years of marriage, he supported her work as a modern dancer, celebrated calligrapher, and painter. Pete finished his bachelor’s degree at the University of Chicago and earned a second bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master’s in city planning from UC Berkeley. He worked for the San Francisco Planning Department for many years, and an early major accomplishment was bringing the first computerized system into the department in the days of punchcard systems. His innovative work, along with that of his colleagues, made possible the analysis of census data down to the block areas of the city, which was then used in the community renewal program.

Pete was the photographer and website guru for Jenny, as well as the majordomo planner and installer for her many art exhibits. The couple lived in San Francisco and Mill Valley before settling in Lagunitas, where they became proud chicken farmers of a small flock of Araucana hens. They delighted in caring for the chickens and in sharing fresh eggs with friends and neighbors.

After Jenny died, Pete met artist Helen Webber and formed a domestic partnership, which they lovingly called their “Unmarriage.” Once again, Pete played the essential role of supporter behind the scenes for Helen’s ongoing career as a fabric collage tapestry artist and painter. Helen died three years ago.

Since then, Pete had been cared for by a devoted team of rotating friends and caregivers known as Pete’s People in his beloved home, Hermit Farm. He was a man of great intelligence, a lover of history and philosophy, and an inveterate storyteller to the end. He leaves behind his beloved feline friend, Mister Bill.

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2023

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