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The Communicator


Peter Shih ('67 Journ)

Alumni Fellow and longtime supporter with his talent, time and treasure

Headshot of Peter Shih

Peter Warburton Shih, of Weston, Connecticut, died on Oct. 22, 2019, at home after battling leukemia. He was born on March 15, 1943, in China's wartime capital, Chongqing, to Tao-tsi "John" Shih and Isobel Harriet Chien. He emigrated from China in 1948 and settled in Queens, New York, where he lived as a child in the multiculturally integrated United Nations housing complex, Parkway Village.

At age 16, Peter graduated from Jamaica High School in 1959 and took a job at an advertising firm in New York City for a year to stay close to his mother who was battling breast cancer. It was this first exposure to advertising that piqued Peter's interest and drove his desire to study advertising and communications at Penn State. For his early and outstanding work in the field, Shih was named an Alumni Fellow by the University in 2004.

Shih left New York City for Manchester, Vermont, in the 1960s to become an innkeeper near the mountains. He believed that people with more resources and leisure time would pursue skiing as a recreational sport in greater numbers. When a local once asked him why he moved to Vermont, he responded, "it reminds me of my home in China."

In 1978, Shih was delighted to host the U.S. Ski Team at Kandahar Lodge for Vermont's first World Cup Race at Stratton Mountain. During the summers, Shih stocked the lodge's pond with trout and hosted Orvis's fly fishing school, inspiring his interest in the sport. He returned to New York City in the late 1970s to return to advertising, working both nationally and internationally on key sporting events such as World Cup Soccer, the Olympics and World Track and Field.

Shih was his happiest when rolling dice on a backgammon set, shuffling cards for gin rummy or working on a New York Times crossword puzzle. He was a skilled fly fisherman, avid golfer and a terrific skier and tennis/paddle player when youth was on his side. Shih also had a special passion and devotion to nature, his garden and to observing all of the creatures that inhabited his Weston, Connecticut, surroundings.

He was the beloved partner of Ellen McCormick, father to Stephen, Bullet, Polly and Isobel, "step-father" to Wynne and John McCormick and an adored "Gong-Gong" to his grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister, Mary, and brother, Jerry and two nephews, Christopher and Michael.