He began coming to the Vineyard in the 1950s for regular family vacations, staying with college friends Tim and Audrey Foote on Menemsha Pond, where he loved to sail. In the 1980s he also started visiting his son Peter in Aquinnah and he always enjoyed rooting for the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School girls’ hockey team and granddaughters Zoe and Alexa Fisher.
A self-made man from the depression-era Midwest, he forged his way on his own terms and showed those who knew him how to be a leader and how to stand strong.
Paul Ignatius, former secretary of the Navy and a business associate of Peter’s, described him as “Owlish behind tortoiseshell glasses and with a deep baritone voice that gave a sense of importance to every word he uttered.” He used that voice to great effect in everything he did from the arts to the board room to the dining room to town meeting floor.
Born in St. Paul, Minn., on Nov. 18, 1920 to Herbert and Katharine (Stewart) Temple, Peter was a child actor who originated the role of All-American Boy Jack Armstrong in a 13-week radio pilot, that went on to become a popular national program. After high school he became a radio announcer and newscaster in St. Paul. With the outbreak of the war he enlisted in the Navy as a petty officer in radio and public relations and was later commissioned.After the war he received a bachelor of arts degree in English from Harvard in 1947, and an MBA from the Harvard Business School in 1949. While at Harvard, he joined some other students including Albert Marre and Jerome Kilty and formed a classical repertory theatre company at the Brattle Theater in Harvard Square. From 1948 to 1952, he served as general manager, director and actor while producing over 60 plays — chiefly Shakespeare, Shaw, Ibsen and Chekhov — and attracting performers such as Zero Mostel, Cyril Ritchard, Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn and Nancy Walker. In 1952 he was approached by several Harvard Business School faculty members who were in the infant field of management consulting and he joined the firm Harbridge House where he remained for 18 years, becoming executive vice president. For five of those years he also served as director of the Boston Arts Festival. Prior to his association, the festival had been an annual display of contemporary art, painting and sculpture in the Boston Public Garden. Mr. Temple introduced the performing arts — dance, theatre, music, poetry — bringing such luminaries to the Garden as Carl Sandburg, Martha Graham, Thornton Wilder, Robert Frost, Maria Tallchief, Archibald MacLeisch and Sarah Caldwell and producing plays by O’Neill, Shaw and Sherwood and operas by Mozart, Donazetti and Menotti.
In 1970, he left Harbridge House and co-founded Temple, Barker and Sloane. With Peter as chief executive officer, TBS very quickly became a leading international management consulting firm serving clients in a wide variety of industries. TBS grew to several hundred employees before being acquired in 1987 by Marsh and McLennan. Mr. Temple is remembered gratefully by the many TBS employees he mentored over the years.
While known for his artistic and business accomplishments, perhaps his greatest pleasure came from working the land. In 1954, seeking independence and self-sufficiency, he bought a dilapidated 1693 farmhouse and a few acres of land in Millis. He renovated the house, doing much of the work himself, and started buying surrounding land to stave off suburban development. In the 1960s he added sheep and cattle operations and then blueberries. Today it’s a beautiful 85-acre preserve of farmland and forest along the banks of the Bogastow Brook, and his home for 58 years. He also acquired a 100-plus-acre historic farm in Westport. An advocate for land conservation and open space planning, Peter was a corporate trustee of The Trustees of Reservations for many years.No gentleman farmer, he did daily chores, drove the tractor and hoisted bales of hay into his nineties. He looked out over his fields and flock until the day he died. He is survived by his wife Beverly (Malatesta); sons Peter and his wife Teresa of Aquinnah, and Paul and his wife Kerry of Longmont, Colo.; his former wife Parian Temple; five grandchildren; and four nephews and their families.