College of Law Mourns Passing of Peer Pedersen ('48)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

With great sadness, the University of Illinois College of Law mourns the passing of Peer Pedersen (’48), our respected alumnus, supporter, and friend who passed away on January 21, 2013 at the age of 87.

photo of Peer Pedersen

A native of Denmark, Peer immigrated to the United States at the age of one. He served in the United States Navy during World War II before earning his B.S. from the University of Illinois in 1947 and his LL.B. from the College of Law in 1948. In 1957, he founded the Chicago law firm now known as Pedersen & Houpt, practicing in the areas of corporate finance, tax, securities, and real estate law. Peer was also a successful entrepreneur and investor in his own right, participating in the initial formation and capitalization of Blockbuster Video, Blue Rhino Corporation, Extended Stay America, and SpinCycle, among other ventures. During his distinguished career in law and business, he served on the boards of Aon, Extended Stay America, Spraying Systems Co., Tempel Steel Company, and Tennis Corporation of America.

A devoted supporter of the University of Illinois and the College of Law, Peer was a founding member of the College of Law’s Board of Visitors (serving as president from 1991 to 1993), a member of the John E. Cribbet Society, and the co-chair of the College’s Agenda for Excellence Campaign and its recently completed Brilliant Futures Campaign. With his wife Sarah, who predeceased him, he endowed a faculty chair and funded a professorship at the College. The College named the Peer and Sarah Pedersen Pavilion in his honor in recognition of his leadership and advocacy efforts on behalf of the College. He received the William E. Winter Award for Outstanding Advocate Leadership from the University of Illinois Foundation, a Loyalty Award from the University of Illinois Alumni Association, and a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the College of Law.

“Peer was a magnetic, courageous, wise, and profoundly public-spirited individual,” recalled Dean Bruce Smith. “He took great pride in his alma mater – and we in him. No one who spent time with Peer could fail to marvel at his energy, his selflessness, his decency, and his zest for life.”

“Peer was a consummate lawyer and an inspiration to everyone who knew him. He was a devoted and informed patron of the arts and was the epitome of grace in everything he did. Despite his extraordinary accomplishments, he took special pride in promoting the work and achievements of others – a character trait that distinguishes only the very best among us,” said Richard L. Kaplan, Peer and Sarah Pedersen Professor of Law.

Peer’s numerous charitable endeavors included a 40-year association with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago, including service as president of the Robert R. McCormick unit in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood. He also served on the Boards of Children's Memorial Hospital, the Lyric Opera, and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. In 2007, he was a significant contributor to the private fundraising campaigns for Chicago's Millennium Park and the Civic Opera House.

The visitation will be on Friday, January 25, 3-9 p.m. at Wenban Funeral Home, 320 E. Vine Avenue, Lake Forest, Illinois. The funeral will be on Saturday, January 26, 10 a.m. at the Church of the Holy Spirit, 400 E. Westminster Road, Lake Forest, Illinois.

Read the Pedersen & Houpt Tribute.
Read the Chicago Tribune Obituary.