For so many, the arrival of spring in the shire town of Addison County was the sight of Myron “Peter” Kohn trudging down Main Street, walking in the direction of the College. Usually wearing shorts (no matter the weather), never wearing socks, often sporting a sweater, sweatshirt, or lightweight jacket, and always wearing a baseball cap and carrying a bag of some sort, Peter would walk down the sidewalk (and sometimes the street) with his head down, a man with a purpose.
That purpose, of course, was to forever alter the lives of those he encountered. A few years ago (“The Big Picture,” summer 2005), I described Peter as “a selfless person with a sharp mind and an uncanny tendency for offering profound sentiments at just the right moment.” Those moments occurred countless times in the locker room or on the sideline of course, when he would put any win or loss in perspective, never letting a team get too high or too low.
A particularly memorable moment occurred in Baltimore’s Senator Theater back in ’05 at the premiere of Keeper of the Kohn. At the film’s conclusion, Peter took the stage and after a round of applause, someone shouted out from the audience, “Peter, what time is it?” Now, this was a constant question for Kohn before each game, and it was always followed by his declaration, “Time to beat Williams” or whichever team the Panthers were facing. Out of context, such a moment would trip up just about anyone, but Peter didn’t miss a beat. In his unmistakable gravelly voice, he said, “It’s time for me to thank everyone who made such an occasion possible.”
The last time I saw Peter was on the Middlebury sideline, just before the men’s lacrosse team faced St. Lawrence in an NCAA matchup. It was a stunningly beautiful afternoon, the first nice day after weeks of cold, rainy weather. I walked up to Peter, put my hand on his shoulder and jokingly asked if he had brought this weather up from New Jersey.
Again, without missing a beat, the deeply religious Kohn replied, “Oh I don’t know about that. Only God or Jesus could take credit for the weather.” It was classic Peter—humble, genuine, of the moment. As he had done so many times for so many people, he had put a smile on someone’s face.
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