Peter Hooper died peacefully in the early hours of July 13, 2022, in the company of his wife of 58 years, Jill (Clohessy) Hooper, at their home in Rye, N.Y. He was 82.
A banker by trade, Mr. Hooper left behind a rich business legacy. Having built a reputation nurturing foreign corporate investment in Ireland, he went on to expand the footprint of Irish banking in the United States and to boost investment, trade, and amity between the two countries.
He was a pillar of the Irish American community, most especially in New York, where for years he attended cultural events and hosted annual celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day at the Fifth Avenue headquarters of the Bank of Ireland, for which he served as chief executive in North America, and at his home in Rye.
Peter John Hooper was born in Dublin, Ireland, on January 28, 1940 — although, as he loved to note, his birth certificate put the date nine days earlier. The mismatch was never quite explained, but likely fell to frazzled parents, a careless Irish clerk, or both.
The third child of Laurence Hooper, a prominent economist, and Miriam (Harte Barry) Hooper, he grew up in the Dublin neighborhood of Donnybrook. After attending Catholic University School, he joined Ireland’s National Bank — which later merged into the Bank of Ireland.
In 1973 he was selected to attend a Harvard Business School program for upward-bound managers from around the world. His time in Boston opened up his horizons, giving him new contacts, a much-cherished membership at the Harvard Club, and, later in life, bragging rights over his children.
With unstinting support from his wife, Mr. Hooper’s career followed the economic rise of Ireland itself. He helped to establish the Bank of Ireland’s presence in England and then built a thriving business lending to the foreign corporations that began flocking to Ireland in the 1970s, especially from the U.S. and Asia.
His approach was strongly personal, and he and his wife often entertained international executives at their home in the Dublin suburb of Killiney. His young family grew all the while, with Jill holding the fort during his frequent trips abroad; she gave birth to their fifth child while he was 3,000 miles away, attending Harvard.
In 1982, Mr. Hooper accepted a post running the Bank of Ireland’s operations in North America, moving the clan of eight to New York. Originally intended as a five-year assignment, the job turned out to be a major life change. Roots grew and deepened, his children established independent lives in America, and he and his wife ultimately became U.S. citizens.
Mr. Hooper retired from the Bank of Ireland in 1993. After attempting to buy the bank’s New York retail operation — which he had hoped to restyle as a flagship of the Irish American community — he settled into a second career consulting for Irish and American concerns and serving as the longtime chairman of The New Ireland Fund, an NYSE-traded vehicle for investment in the Irish economy.
His ongoing vision of Irish-U.S. investment ties was celebrated in 2018 when The New Ireland Fund was honored by the New York Stock Exchange. As the fund’s retired chairman, he stood on the NYSE’s balcony at the center of a group that rang the market’s opening bell.
Mr. Hooper’s greater legacy, however, was his large and loving family. One of seven himself, he reveled in the warmth and chaos of family gatherings.
He took great pride in his children’s achievements, enduring sunburns at countless graduation ceremonies, and he cheered the arrival of a new generation starting with the birth of a granddaughter on his own birthday (the real one) in 1997.
By the time they celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary in 2014, the Hoopers had a dozen grandchildren and another on the way. They traveled across the country to visit their children and grandchildren. Their home life was enriched by a broad and loyal circle of friends in Westchester County and punctuated by regular trips back to Ireland — including for two iterations of “Hooperama”, a bustling reunion of Mr. Hooper’s siblings, their children, and their children’s children.
Mr. Hooper loved travel and sport. A traveler of high order, he visited more than 40 countries during his lifetime. He was a dedicated golfer who also enjoyed playing racquet sports and, in his early days, field hockey. He followed the exploits of Ireland’s world-class athletes with ardor, most especially its rugby team — and as a track-and-field fan since childhood, he was thrilled to finally attend the Olympic Games in person in 2012.
Although he slowed down toward the end of his life, he never stopped watching sport on television, and he always sang along with “Ireland’s Call” at the start of international rugby fixtures.
His appreciation for his wife and family was deep and unflagging. In his final days, his most frequent phrase was “I love you.”
In addition to his wife, Jill Hooper, he is survived by his children, Laurence of Sterling, Va., David of Rye, Stephen and John, both of Los Angeles, Calif., Andrea Robert of Port Chester, N.Y., and Olivia Curry of Harrison, N.Y., as well as a daughter-in-law, Lisa Hooper, and two sons-in-law, Jackson Robert and Michael Curry.
He also leaves behind his brothers, Richard and Darrell Hooper; three sisters, Jennifer Walsh, Jacqueline Howard, and Susan O’Connor; 13 grandchildren; and other family members too numerous to name. He was predeceased by his sister, Deirdre Leader.
The Hooper family will receive guests at Graham Funeral Home in Rye on July 18 from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. A funeral mass will be celebrated July 19 at 10 a.m. at the Church of the Resurrection, followed by interment at Greenwood Union Cemetery.
Donations in Peter Hooper’s memory may be made to Part of the Solution (potsbronx.org).