Peter Larr of Rye, New York, who had a long career in international banking and was a consummate civic leader in Rye, died on December 16, 2019 at Greenwich Hospital, from ALS. He was 80.
Born on January 17, 1939 at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, Indiana, he was the son of Colonel David Larr, DSC, DSM, and Marjorie Kathleen Hearne Larr. His first home was in Lafayette, Indiana. With a stop, before the outbreak of World War II in Arlington, Virginia, he spent the war years in Watertown, New York, followed by two years in Tokyo.
After the death of his father in 1947, he attended school in Toronto, Canada, before returning to Watertown. Starting in September 1953, he attended The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut, on a full scholarship. At Hotchkiss, he was a member of the school Debating team, played on the Varsity Soccer and Track teams, and sang in the choir and glee club.
Graduating as a junior from Hotchkiss in 1956, he entered Princeton University, also on a scholarship, where he majored in Political Science with a minor in Middle Eastern Affairs. For two years he was an occasional starter on the university Rugby team, until sidelined by an injury.
On July 7, 1962, in Rye, he married Rosamond Holmes Woodfield, a marriage which lasted 57 years. She survives him, as do their three children: Alexia Larr Duker (Richard), Diana Kirsten Larr, and David Hearne Larr (Cornelia). He is also survived by his grandchildren: Peter, Katie, and Courtney Duker, Dylan, Madison, and Parker Gabriel, and David and Natalia Larr. He was predeceased by his brother, David Rea Larr.
In September of 1960, Peter began a 40-year career at Chase Manhattan Bank, with posts overseas in London, Beirut, and Hong Kong. After his first year at the bank, he went on active duty in New Jersey National Guard during 1961 and 1962. Upon his return to Chase, he served in many capacities over the years as the executive responsible for specialized business units such as Land Transportation Division, the market-leading Commodity Financing Division, and the Domestic Institutional Banking Group. Reaching the title of Senior Vice President, his management skills were tested by diverse functions managing upward of 950 staff members as well as being the executive responsible for the industry-famous Chase Manhattan Bank training program with branches in London, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, and Rio de Janeiro.
The last ten years of his career were focused upon credit and market risk management, being responsible for the creation and administration of policy, the integrity of the risk rating systems, management of the reserve setting process, and a short stint managing the bank’s workout division. Late in his career, he was the Chief Credit Officer for the bank’s risk exposures in Asia.
Over the years Mr. Larr was active in various banking industry trade groups, serving as Chairman of the Corporate Banking Division of the American Bankers Association, President of Robert Morris Associates, New York and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Robert Morris Associates National Organization. He was a member of the Association of Reserve City Bankers and Chairman of its Payments System Committee. Over the years he wrote for various trade journals and was the three-time winner of the annual award for Best Article in the RMA Journal of Commercial Lending.
He frequently spoke at meetings and universities around the world for sponsors such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Asia Society, and the Polish Bankers Association. His talks took him to St. Petersburg, Warsaw, Jakarta, Bangkok, and beyond. He covered various topics including the future of Asia’s Cities, Sources of Capital for Asia/Pacific Growth and Technology and It’s Developing Role in Wholesale Banking.
He was also a board member of the British Schools and Universities Foundation.
A dedicated volunteer in the Rye community, he established the first Rye-Playland Committee. He served for 19 years on the Rye Planning Commission, eight years on the Rye Human Rights Commission, and was a Trustee of the Rye Historical Society and Sub-Committee Chairman of the Rye City Board of Education Excellence Committee.
His colleague on the Planning Commission, Nick Everett, longtime chairman, said, “Peter had an ability to join a deliberation at a critical point and then, based on his considerable experience, steer the conversation to focus on the most salient issues. His points were always delivered with a sense of humor. Even though it is six years since he was last on the Commission, there are still times when we reference his points on critical planning issues or ask what Peter would have said. I can still picture him sitting at the end of the table with a big smile, making sure I fully understood his point, always constructive, and always with the best interest of the community on his mind.”
Last month, Peter and his wife Roz were honored by the Rye City Lions Club for outstanding volunteerism. Former Mayor Doug French noted their many civic contributions that night, but after hearing of Peter’s passing, he said, “Peter wore many public hats in Rye, but his biggest contribution was the time he spent one-on-one with others; connecting and inspiring others to get involved to help make Rye the great place that it is. He loved this community more than anything, other than his family. His relationship with Roz and the respect they showed one another was greatly admired by all.” French added, “Being one of the most well-read people you will ever meet and possessing an infectious laugh, his wisdom was usually right on the mark, even though sometimes his jokes weren’t as great as he was.”
As former Mayor Ted Dunn said, “The list of Peter’s accomplishments is long and illustrious, though many of us will remember him best for the warmth of his friendship and his ready laugh.”
Peter Larr was very active in local politics and served as Vice President of the League of Women Voters of Rye, Rye Brook and Port Chester for over twelve years. He was also a board member of 5 Steps to Five, a nonprofit dedicated to helping young Hispanic parents help their children learn the benefits of reading and reading comprehension from birth until kindergarten.
A memorial service will be held in the new year. Donations in Peter Larr’s memory may be made to the ALS Foundation.