Peter Hufstader, an educator whose wry sense of humor and gentlemanly demeanor endeared him to students and colleagues alike, died on April 19 at his home in Avon, Conn. after a long illness. He was 84. 

The eldest son of Alice and Robert Hufstader of New York city and Edgartown, he attended the Buckley School, Phillips Andover Academy and Yale University, receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Yale. 

He was the grandson of Laurilla and William H. Hufstader of Buffalo and of Alice and Arthur Anderson of Bedford Hills, whose summer home on North Water street in Edgartown became his parents’ home and later, his.

Before beginning his teaching career, he saw active duty as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve, serving with Patrol Squadron Seven and on the staff of Commander Fleet Air Wing Three. 

In addition to his many years as a high school English teacher, primarily at the Wheeler School in Providence, he filled leadership roles as a department chair, assistant headmaster and acting headmaster. He left the classroom in 1988 to become a consultant to schools in curriculum and instruction. 

Peter’s summer life revolved around the Edgartown Yacht Club, from his earliest days learning to sail and race in the 1940s, to his time as a sailing instructor in the 1950s, on through his many years as a competitor, head of race committee, flag officer and ultimately commodore from 1982 to 1983. 

Club peers, employees and sailing students alike have recalled his warmth and sincerity, as well as his courtesy, sense of humor and deep knowledge of sailing, navigation and weather.

One of Peter’s most competitive seasons was 1977, when, co-skippering with his 16-year-old son, they won first place in the Shields class in every EYC series.

In 1995, he began a fulfilling second career as a researcher and then research director for Common Cause Rhode Island. In 1999, he received that organization’s Rhode Island Public Service Achievement Award, and in 2008, he received their R.I. Distinguished Service Award. He retired in 2008. 

He published a novel, The Riddle of the Graveyard, in 2018. An avid, lifelong sailor, he hoped his book — a sailing thriller set in a barely-fictionalized, lovingly detailed version of Edgartown in 1950 — would interest young adults in problem-solving, both in life and aboard small boats. 

He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Katharine; her parents, Susan and James Dillon; his former wife, Margaret Robinson Steele of Edgartown; his brother Jonathan; his children Louisa Hufstader of Edgartown, Christopher Hufstader of Warren, R.I., Elizabeth Balay of Edgartown and Earlysville, Va. and Alice Moore of Corte Madera, Calif.; their spouses, four grandchildren, 11 brothers and sisters in law, 14 nieces and nephews and one great-nephew. 

His sister Lucy Baker Sharp and brother in law John Dillon predeceased him. 

A small memorial service was held at St. James’s Episcopal Church in Farmington April 23. His ashes will be scattered in the waters just beyond Edgartown this summer. 

Donations can be made to Oxfam America. For condolences please visit