Yale University

In Memoriam

Peter L. Truebner

Peter died on January 23, 2015, of cancer. Here are three remembrances:


January 26, 2015

Pete Truebner
1964 graduation

Peter Louis Truebner, of Darien, Connecticut — a loving husband, father, grandfather, and friend — died on January 23, 2015 after a valiant struggle with cancer. He was 73 years old. 

Peter was born on May 29, 1941 in New York City, to Louis Harold Truebner and Elise Nieschlag Truebner, and was raised in Stamford, Connecticut. Peter earned his Bachelors in Arts at Yale University in 1964, his Juris Doctor at the University of Michigan in 1967, and his Master of Law from Georgetown University in 1969. He also served in the United States Marine Corps Reserves.

Mr. Truebner served as the Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1969 to 1974 before returning to Connecticut where he would practice law for the next 40 years. As a litigator, he represented his clients in the federal, state, and local courts. His practice was primarily criminal defense, civil litigation, and family law. He was a member of the bar associations in Connecticut and District of Columbia, as well as the Federal Bar Council and Connecticut Association of Trial Lawyers.

Pete Truebner
in recent years

His commitment to the Darien community played an important part of his life. From 1994 to 2009, he served as a Commissioner for the Darien Police Department. Peter also served as Chairman of the Darien Housing Authority, the local Red Cross Chapter, and was an active member of the Republican Town Committee.

Peter was a lifelong sportsman, a history highlighted by his role on the nationally ranked, undefeated Yale football team of 1960. One of his great passions was paddle tennis. He played both tennis and paddle tennis for Middlesex Club, and was also a member at the Silvermine Golf Club.

Peter is survived by his wife, Jan Wright Truebner; their son Steve Truebner, his wife Emily and children Clara, Teddy and Tim, of Kansas City, MO; his daughter Blair Truebner Gorman, her husband Chris and daughter Piper, of Rowayton, CT; Sisters Elise Henning of Darien and Wendy Knapp of North Haven; and devoted nieces and nephews.

Calling hours are scheduled for Thursday, January 29th from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Edward Lawrence Funeral Home, located at 2119 Boston Post Road, Darien, CT 06820. A Memorial Service will be held on Friday, January 30th at 2 p.m. at the Noroton Presbyterian Church, located at 2011 Boston Post Road, Darien, CT 06820. Following the service there will be a reception to celebrate Peter’s life at the Country Club of Darien, located at 300 Mansfield Avenue, Darien, CT 06820.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Obie Harrington-Howes Foundation, Darien EMS-Post 53, or A Better Chance in Darien.


Eulogy by Chris Getman '64

January 30, 2015

I hope that there’s a fire extinguisher here, because this roast could get rather hot.

I’m honored to have been asked to make some remarks about Peter and his Yale connections. Given the huge outpouring of comments from teammates, classmates, and friends, I’m going to use quite a few references. I will also try to bring substance to the important role he played in our lives.

Peter was an unusually intelligent and funny man. His staccato delivery and unique way with words were legendary

Hank Hallas noted: “He always had a twinkle in his eye and a very very unique verbal delivery which is impossible to describe.” Jud Calkins wrote: “There he is, across the room, deeply engaged in conversation … drink clutched in one hand, the other gesturing for emphasis. As he catches sight of another approaching friend, a broad grin flashes, a palm shoots forward, and a throaty greeting emerges from deep within — followed inevitably by a provocative opening line. He was an accomplished raconteur … and oh, that voice, rumbling forth in a raspy way as if he’d just completed the last wind sprint of the day’s practice.” Jud goes on to say: “Sure he was known to crack a beer at the back of the bus after a J.V. game, but hey, Coach Stu Clancy had told his boys after a difficult loss that all they needed before the next encounter was a case of beer and an oil change.” Ian Robertson put it this way, “We loved Peter for his extraordinary intelligence and indomitable spirit.”

Given his relatively small size as an interior lineman, he truly impressed his teammates with his grit, determination, perseverance, optimism, and courage.

When we think of Peter, we inevitably smile. Joe Lieberman remembers fondly his shifting into his Mel Allen mode and doing the broadcast of the daily whiffle-ball game in the Pierson courtyard much to the amusement of all. I can hear him now. (Shift to gravely staccato Truebner mode.) “It’s a beautiful day here in the Pierson Courtyard as the Suns trail the Moons 3-2. Righthander Bill DeWitt steps into the batter’s box, man on second, one out.  Fireballer Mike Arms — great name for a pitcher, eh? — is on the mound for the Moons. De Witt, who is batting a hefty .197, taps the plate and tugs at his belt. Arms takes the sign from Kramer, toes the slab, and fires a fastball high and tight.  De Witt swings and lofts a fly ball to right center. Hanser’s over, flips down the glasses, and makes the catch.  Dan Moger, respectful of Hanser’s cannon, wisely stays at second.  (Pause.) I don’t know why they have De Witt batting second.  He’s such a banjo hitter he should take hitting lessons from Pete Seeger. (Pause.) Ladies and gentlemen, what a perfect day to crack a cold one, and that should be a Schaefer, the one beer to have when you’re having more than one. We all know that in Pierson it’s a trip to the Dean’s office, if you DON’T have more than one, so hit the fridge right now. The next batter, Drayton Valentine, who is third in the league with a .322 average, steps in and glares at Arms.  The windup, the pitch, it’s a line drive past a diving Chip Oldt into left.  Moger, who was off with the pitch, lopes around third and heads for home.  Left fielder Yogi Kiernan fields it cleanly and fires to Kramer.  Bang bang, he’s safe! We’re tied at three. It’s Schaefer time!!!!”

Pete Putzel told the story of his going after a noted bridge player for some sort of serious white-collar crime while in the U.S. Attorney’s office. After defense brought in multiple high-powered witnesses who testified that bridge is a game of honesty and integrity and that his client would never cheat on anything, the judge asked Peter if he had any closing remarks. Without missing a beat he responded (shift to Truebner mode): “Your honor, the Government passes.” He was very quick on his feet.

Ed Whitcraft recalls when he, Mit Massie, and Peter were summoned to Freshman Dean Harold Whiteman’s office and were told, “Gentlemen, there is a lot of muddy water coming out of 346 Wright Hall.”  Ed went on to say that after being with Truebs for three years at Hotchkiss and two at Yale, “I had to get married to get rid of him.”

Both Ed and Jeff Collinson, another roommate, recalled the time when Peter went to get ice for one of their legendary whiskey-sour parties. He got the ice in his laundry bag and dumped both it and a pair of sweaty football socks into the vat. Jeff noted that they added an extra kick to the famously potent mixture. No pun intended.

In the pre-mooning era, Peter proudly displayed his spanking new Brooks Brothers blue-and-white striped boxers to the Pierson dining hall on parents’ weekend. That earned him a direct, do-not-pass-go, six-month stint in the Marine Corps.  I pity his poor drill instructor who must have known that he was never going  to break an extraordinarily intelligent and determined recruit. No way.

Throughout his life we was a strong defender of the downtrodden and a dexterously vocal critic of the bloviated. This was obvious when he became counsellor to Benny Sherman, an alcoholic ice-cream vendor also known as the Humpty Dumpty Man. Inevitably, a hung-over “Dump” would show up at the corner of High and Elm right below 346 Wright fifteen minutes after Kelly, the Good Humor Man, had arrived, and park behind him  Naturally, given his favorable location, Kelly would attract most of the traffic. Peter would consistently get in Dump’s face, telling him (shift to Truebner mode): “Benny, if you don’t get up earlier and stay off the sauce, you’re toast.” He even tried to organize the freshmen to boycott Good Humor and buy Humpty Dumpty. Sadly it was to no avail.  Poking fun at Yale’s self-inflated image, he was published in Time Magazine noting that he had aced an important modern-history current-events test taught by a famous professor simply by reading Time.

His verbal dexterity and one-liners were legendary. For example, a paddle player who was quick at the net was described as having “the hands of a pedophile.” There are too many others to mention.

I remember his saying to a recent Yale football player who was describing the year-round commitment one needs to make now in order to play college football (shift to Truebner mode): “Hell, when we were reporting for early ball, we’d throw the beer can and the cigarette butt out the window at Exit 59 on the Merritt Parkway.”

I can imagine him as a defense lawyer saying (shift to Truebner mode): “Your honor, I know that Jose was in the room at the time of the incident, but he couldn’t possibly have done it because he wouldn’t have had time to sharpen the axe.”

Because of his gruff and sardonic manner, Peter was also often the recipient of reciprocal barbs, which he graciously received. I report two instances from the audited minutes of our Class of 1964 golf outings.

“Some smirks arose from those on the first tee as Sam Francis proclaimed himself a 23 handicap and then launched a huge drive right down the middle of the fairway, barely missing Truebner who was lining up for his third shot.”

Or “Truebner Wins Grand Slam at '64 Outing.”  “Peter Truebner recently received the coveted Gland Slam at the Class of 1964’s semi-annual golf outing. Truebner was recognized for being farthest from the pin, closest to the tee, taking the most strokes to the fairway, and shortest putt missed.” (Shift to Truebner mode.) “I’m ecstatic,” he beamed. “I’ve been playing sports all of my life and this is the biggest honor I’ve ever received. Given the other talent out there with similar skills, this is a unique award. My thanks to the Committee which made this possible.”

There’s so much more to mention which time does not permit. Suffice it to say that Truebs was a funny, loyal, intelligent, witty, and  compassionate man.  It was a privilege for me to have been his friend for almost fifty-five years.

As he liked to say (shift to Truebner mode): “The car was in the garage the entire time.”


Remembrance by Steve Norman '64

Peter was one of those high-spirited members of the Class of 1963 who, like the young Getman,  joined the ranks of our Class after being absolved of their mischiefs and who subsequently enriched our brotherhood.

Peter’s early identity was as a scrappy if undersized guard on the legendary 1960 football team. He later allowed that it was a great honor to be a member of such a storied group but that he might have been taller had it not been for the pounding he received in endless scrimmages against the hard-hitting  Balme, Burseik, Pyle, and Will.

Peter’s dad, Louis Treubner, was a prominent businessman and corporate director. I had some dealings with him in the 1970s when I was a fledgling aide to Howard Clark, the then CEO of American Express. I was sometimes present when Mr. Treubner and Mr. Clark  discussed  important matters. I gained favor from Mr. Treubner simply by saying that I was a classmate of his son.

I’ll attend Peter’s service this Friday.