Peter Holden Greenman, 88, of Block Island, RI left this world better than he found it on October 2, 2021, with his loving wife, Sandra, and other family members by his side. Born in Concord, Massachusetts on April 1, 1933, Peter attended Phillips Exeter Academy and graduated from Middlebury College, where he met Sandra the first week of school when he asked if he could walk her home after a newspaper club meeting. That was 69 years ago, and they were married the week after graduation.

Peter often referred to his life in chapters and there were many. Middlebury, serving in the Army in Texas, raising his family in Cohasset, MA, 30 years of banking in Boston, sailing, skiing, cycling, trips to Ireland, and otherwise helping his family realize their dreams that took both of his children around the world many times over. 

Peter’s favorite chapter of all were the last 27 years. He and Sandra lived on Block Island full-time, where they hosted generations of friends, family, and barbershop singers, baked over 1,700 loaves of Irish soda bread [really], and where he devoted his life to his beloved island community, paying it forward and loving thy neighbor. There was the loving restoration of their pre-1850 home and researching and writing genealogies of his extended family as well as island families: Rose, Sheffield, Mott, Mitchell, Payne, and Lewis. Peter and Sandy sang in Barbershop festivals, the Ecumenical Choir that took Peter and Sandra to Vienna, and with Everett and Verna Littlefield as the Grandmas & the Grandpas….and that was just for starters.

Peter was a dedicated and tireless philanthropist and gave his time, talent, and treasure as often as he could. He devoted innumerable hours volunteering for the Block Island Conservancy and was instrumental in helping preserve the Mitchell Farm. For more than 20 years, Peter “marched” with Adrian’s Army, helping to maintain Block Island’s Greenway trails. He coordinated blood drives for 27 years (for which he was honored by the New Shoreham Town Council in 2021). Peter also supported and volunteered for The Mary D Fund, Block Island Volunteer Fire & Rescue, Island Skateboard Park, Save Rebecca, The Block Island Historical Society, and many other causes. One of Peter’s most treasured accomplishments was organizing the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Block Island in honor of Sandra who has Alzheimer’s. In 2020, Peter was the number one fundraiser in the state of Rhode Island and among the top 100 fundraisers in the United States. All fundraising was done with an old fashion handwritten letter campaign. Peter’s herculean effort to bring awareness to Alzheimer’s made a difference as we all fight for the first survivor. 

Peter leaves an unfillable void in the heart of his wife of 65 years and best friend Sandra, son Chris and his wife Kate, daughter Sally and her husband Jay, granddaughters Eliza Burlingame and her husband Andrew, Emma Culver and her husband Robert, and great grandsons Ned Culver and Jack Burlingame. Special thanks to their neighbors, Tim and Tony Fox, Peter, and Sandra’s “other sons” and their families for their love, support, and friendship over the years, as well as countless friends from Block Island to Ireland with whom he corresponded regularly.

Peter also loved his 1979 green Volkswagen Bus, which he considered “family” and drove until the last day he was on the Island. The Bus, along with Peter and Sandy, became famous this past summer when a professional photographer captured them as they watched the waves roll in at North Light, a regular adventure they shared many afternoons. With their permission, the moment was posted on social media and “went viral,” promptly receiving over 1 million views.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, October 23, 2021, at St. Andrew’s Church, 23 Chapel Street, Block Island at 12:30pm. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to: Block Island Volunteer Fire and Rescue, PO Box 791, Block Island, RI 02807; the Mary D. Fund, PO Box 323, Block Island, RI 02807; or the Alzheimer’s Association, Block Island-RI Walk, 245 Waterman St, Suite 306, Providence, RI 02906 and reference Team Peter and Sandy.

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