Peter Lawrence Marchant May 14, 1928 ~ October 26, 2013
Peter Lawrence Marchant, 85, died October 26th in Washington Regional Hospital. He was born May 14, 1928 in London, England to Esther and Robert Marchant. During World War II, he was sent to Uppingham, a boarding school in the country, to escape the London Blitz. At 18, he joined the British Army and was assigned to the Education Core, where he discovered his lifelong love of teaching.
After military service he went to Cambridge University, Caius College, and after graduating, first went to Canada, where he taught English in Vancouver for a year before enrolling in the Ph.D. program at the University of Iowa, where he met his future wife, the Arkansas novelist Mary Elsie Robertson. After earning his Ph.D. from Iowa and publishing his thesis novel Give Me Your Answer Do, his academic specialty became the 19th Century British Novel, which he taught at Penn State and the State University of New York, Brockport. His dedication to teaching earned him the Excellence in Teaching Award.
Later in his career, he became more and more interested in the stories and experiences of the survivors from the Holocaust. Even after Peter partially retired, he continued to teach one class a semester — the Literature of the Holocaust. Through that class, and working with director Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, he got to know a large contingent of Holocaust survivors, helping several of them write their own memoirs. He continued teaching memoir classes after he and his wife retired to Winslow, Arkansas in 2005.
Culturally, Peter was Jewish, but during the Vietnam War he was active in the peace movement and he joined the Religious Society of Friends in the 1970s, becoming an active Quaker. Peter earned a black belt in Judo while in Brockport and loved animals, movies, food, classical music and dancing. He is survived by his wife of 52 years; a daughter, Jennifer Marchant of Murfreesboro, Tennessee; a son Piers Marchant (Audrey) of Philadelphia, one granddaughter, Ella Marchant; a sister Madeleine Benenson of London; a sister-in-law Donna Robertson of Asheville, North Carolina; two nephews, a niece, several cousins, many friends, and his dogs Molly and Jessie.
The family wishes to thank the Fayetteville Friends Meeting whose members were so supportive during Peter’s decline. There will be a memorial service for Peter in December. Those wishing to remember him might make a contribution either to the American Friends Service Committee (www.afsc.org) or Amnesty International (www.amnestyusa.org), two causes very close to his heart.
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