In Memoriam: Peter Schramm, 1946-2015

Peter Schramm was an immigrant to this country, and he loved it in the way only those who have good characters and have seen despotism can. His family came from Hungary in 1956, like so many others. He was a boy, and just old enough to remember the trauma of the escape and the difficult decisions it imposed on the family. His mother, father, and sister found their lives here and were forever grateful.

I met Peter in graduate school in 1974. He was already the man the world later came to know: bold, large, blustery, kind, sentimental, and perceptive. He was as good a friend as a man could have. He had big ideas even then, most of them concerned with saving the country and living as a civilized man. Once, I remember, we shared drinks and exchanged concerns about paying back our student loans. He raised his glass of cheap wine and remarked: We prefer to live as gentlemen. The loans had probably bought the wine.

Peter helped to found the Claremont Institute, and he was its leader at the beginning. So much of it owed to his imagination and readiness to take risks. We involved in its founding remain friends to this day, and we’ve lost someone especially precious in Peter.

Peter was a busy man. He was longtime director of the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs, a foothold of conservatism in academia. He wrote many books. And he taught as a politics professor at Ashland University.

This last was his true calling. Peter was a born teacher: He had deep knowledge of the best things, and he loved them. He loved America and its principles, and he could relate them to the greatest books. He loved the great exemplars of the past — Frederick the Great (about whom he wrote his doctoral thesis), Washington, Lincoln, Churchill. He could expound upon them, their principles, and also the great books that inspired and explained them, at any length, in any company, to profound effect. He was proud to be a born Hungarian, just as he was proud to be an adopted American. He had an old sense of honor dressed up in American language.

He was a man of great force, but never a bully. He loved nothing so much as talking into the night about the best things, and generations of his students at Ashland have profited from this fact. His students and his children will miss him very deeply. His friends just as much.

— Larry P. Arnn is the president of Hillsdale College, a founder of the Claremont Institute, and a Claremont Institute president from 1985–2000.

Most Popular

Film & TV

Netflix Debuts Its Obama Manifesto

This week’s widespread media blitz heralding Netflix’s broadcast of its first Obama-endorsed presentation, American Factory, was more than synchronicity. It felt as though U.S. publicists and journalists collectively exhaled their relief at finally regaining the bully pulpit. Reviews of American Factory, a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Capital versus Tucker Carlson

Advertisers do not advertise on Tucker Carlson’s show to endorse the views of Tucker Carlson. They advertise on his show for the same reason they advertise elsewhere: a captive audience — in Tucker’s case, the second-largest one in cable news — might spare thirty seconds of attention that will, they hope, ... Read More
Natural Law

Are Your Sexual Preferences Transphobic?

Last year, a study exploring “transgender exclusion from the world of dating” was published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Of nearly 1,000 participants, the overwhelming majority, 87.5 percent, irrespective of their sexual preference, said they would not consider dating a trans person, ... Read More