Peter was born in New York City on March 9, 1937, the youngest child of Clare and Mollie Appleby. Peter was reared with his older siblings, John and Katie, and his early experiences in the Adirondak Mountains initiated his lifelong fondness of mountains and forests.
In 1942, the family moved to Illinois, where Peter met his beloved Nancy. From the beginning they were inseparable, united by a romantic love and fierce mutual devotion that never diminished.Peter and Nancy married in 1957, when Peter was a sophomore at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. Peter's course of study during his undergraduate years concentrated on Philosophy and English and French Literature. Less than a year after Peter and Nancy's marriage, their daughter Kate was born, creating a scenario that might have seemed inadvisable and even sheer insanity, since Peter was still in college and bagging groceries to support his family.
After Peter graduated with honors from Hamilton, he and Nancy moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Peter attended the Episcopal Theological School and Harvard Divinity School. It was there that their son David was born. Peter's fellowship year at divinity school was supported by a Rockefeller Brothers Theological Fellowship.
By 1960, Peter had realized that his abiding professional passion lay not in theological work (he later said that he'd have made a miserable priest), but in the direction of a scholarly life focused on studying, teaching, and "doing" Philosophy. Hence, the family moved to Austin, Texas, where Peter earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy in 1963.
Peter's first teaching job was at Southwest Missouri State College in Springfield, Missouri. With the family finances finally stabilized, Nancy wanted "just another little baby to hold" and Jane was born in 1965. This was on the eve of the family's departure for Salt Lake City, where Peter had been asked to join the faculty at the University of Utah.
Peter was able to contribute much during his thirty-five year tenure with the University, and in turn derived deep satisfaction from his teaching career and his scholarly pursuits. He was a member of the Philosophy Department, and served as Department Chair from 1990 to 1996. He was also involved with the University's Applied Ethics Project, serving as its Co-Director from 1981-1985. Finally, he was the Acting Director, and then the Associate Director of the Obert and Grace Tanner Humanities Center. Peter's areas of research and publication were philosophy of religion and philosophical theology, and professional and applied ethics. He also served on numerous graduate committees, supervising theses and dissertations, and on seemingly countless college and departmental committees.
Peter's professional service extended well beyond the University, including untiring participation with various ethics committees of the American Psychological Association in Washington, D.C., and valued participation with the Sunstone Theological Symposium.
Peter was also a community activist, serving most recently on the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Ethics. At the time of his death, he was an active member of the Ethics Committees of the University Neuropsychiatric Institute and Cottonwood Hospital, the National Voices for an Inclusive 21st Century, Citizens for Penal Reform, and the Utah State Bar Task Force on Ethnic and Racial Diversity's Committee on Community Services.
Peter had a deep indignation over societal ills and tried his best to make the world a little better. From his moral outrage over segregation in Austin in the early 1960s to his anti-war activism during the Viet Nam era, Peter used his powerful voice to effect change. He was a founding member of the Utah Peace and Freedom Party, and a proud member of the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Though he was suspicious of politicians, government, and big business, there wasn't a person--from the smallest child to a septuagenarian--with whom he couldn't forge a connection.
Peter's favorite things included trips to the beach and to the mountains, good food, strong drink, and the company of his many excellent friends, relatives, and colleagues. Peter loved and cherished his wife, his children, their spouses, and his grandchildren with all his magnificent heart. He lived life exceptionally well, and often said, even in recent weeks, that he was a lucky man.
As was his wish, Peter died peacefully at home on May 27, 2000, his immediate family at his side. A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 3, at the Norma Ashton Room in Carlson Hall on the University of Utah Campus. Carlson Hall is on the northeast corner of 400 South and University Street.
Peter is survived by Nancy; their children, Jane Appleby Barnewitz, David Appleby, and Kate Appleby Toomey, and by Will Barnewitz, Marilyn Fowles Appleby, and Sean Toomey. He is also survived by grandchildren Molly and Kate Barnewitz, and Zoe and Peter Appleby, as well as his sister Katie Nash, his brother John Appleby, his mother Mollie Appleby, and his mother-in-law Marian Flood. He was preceded in death by his father, and his dear friends Paul Frisby and Bill Whisner.
The family offers its thanks for the assistance of Peter's medical caregivers, who made his transition easier, with special thanks to Dr. Jay Jacobson and to Peter's pediatrician, Dr. Louis Borgenicht, for their loving guidance.
In lieu of sending flowers, the family suggests that Peter would be pleased with contributions to Utah Children, Crossroads Urban Center, or to the charity of your choice. We will miss him beyond measure.