Daily Archives: April 6, 2011

Harvard Remembers Peter Gomes

Published April 6, 2011

The memorial service for the late Rev. Peter Gomes (Courtesy of Kris Snibbe/Harvard)

The memorial service for the late Rev. Peter Gomes (Courtesy of Kris Snibbe/Harvard)

Hundreds of Harvard University graduates, professors and community members gathered at the school’s Memorial Church Wednesday to remember their longtime spiritual leader, Rev. Peter Gomes, who died last month.

Harvard luminaries stood in line for more than an hour to make sure they would have a seat in the church Gomes served since 1970.

Former Harvard President Derek Bok was among the speakers at the memorial service. Bok recalled the many qualities that made Gomes truly individual.

“His sheer uniqueness — a Republican in a sea of Democrats, a gay man in a straight society, a Puritan from Plymouth descended from slaves,” Bok said.

Gov. Deval Patrick spoke on Wednesday. (Courtesy of Kris Snibbe/Harvard)

Gov. Deval Patrick spoke on Wednesday. (Courtesy of Kris Snibbe/Harvard)

Current Harvard President Drew Faust also cited Gomes’ originality.

“An African-American from Plymouth, a Baptist in Memorial Church, a Republican in Cambridge, out-of-the-closet and out-of-the-box,” Faust said. “I always sensed that he prized these… Peter would simply say he was who he was and it always made sense to him.”

Faust recalled listening to an interview with Gomes the night he died, simply because she wanted to hear her friend’s voice. She described Wednesday how Gomes discussed what, for him, is the Bible’s most difficult command.

“‘To love others.’ Peter said with a smile, ‘It’s so hard to love other people, they are so unlovely, so unlovable.’ But of course Peter loved so freely and he was so loved in return.”

Gov. Deval Patrick met Gomes as an undergrad at Harvard and developed a lasting friendship with him. He told mourners that Gomes’ ability to follow his own unique compass drew others to him and gave him strength.

“By refusing to be put in anybody else’s box, Peter Gomes may have been the freest man I have ever known,” Patrick said.

Patrick remembered Gomes saying that he was not an optimist, but that he held onto hope.

“‘Faith,’ he said, ‘is the conviction that hope works.’ For Peter’s sake, and the sake of our dear preacher and teacher and friend, may we all continue to listen.”

Patrick joked that Harvard alums don’t die, they just turn into buildings. Then, becoming serious, Patrick said Gomes will be remembered for all the graduates whose contact with him has made them better people.

With additional reporting from WBUR’s Sacha Pfeiffer.


Wednesday Morning: Lawmakers Look At Nuclear Options

Published April 6, 2011

With the world focused on the nuclear catastrophe in Japan, lawmakers on Beacon Hill hope to ensure that Massachusetts is prepared for its own nuclear emergency. Four joint legislative committees will hear today from public safety and environmental officials, energy leaders and anti-nuclear groups in order to study the state’s preparedness.

Grab that big flat-screen from Amazon today, the days of tax-free Internet shopping may soon be over. The Retailers Association of Massachusetts is pushing a bill that would force a tax on e-commerce sites.

Amidst bleary-eyed undergrads and the leaders of tomorrow, a Harvard program is also educating the leaders of today. The university’s Advanced Leadership Initiative is a year long fellowship for people with more than 20 years of leadership experience who want to start socially conscious ventures instead of retiring.

A longtime business and civic leader is in line to take over the reins of the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Boston Mayor Tom Menino nominated Peter Meade to head the BRA yesterday.

Man the bridges and tall buildings around New England, the Red Sox are still looking for that ever-illusive first win. The team fell to 0-4 last night — this time it was their bats that let them down — after losing in Cleveland, 3-1.

What we’re following: We’ll continue to report on some Harvard professors’ ties to Libya, the push for an e-commerce sales tax and the memorial for Rev. Peter Gomes. Radio Boston will look at advances in men’s health.