BTCF Blog | Portraits of Generosity: In Memory of Peter Krysa

BTCF Blog

Portraits of Generosity: In Memory of Peter Krysa

By Darryl Gangloff / January 2, 2020 / Donor Spotlight
Portraits of Generosity: In Memory of Peter Krysa
Berkshire Music School student Joshua Beckwith, above, practices on a guitar donated by the late Peter Krysa, below.

 

Will I be forgotten when I’m gone? That is one of the difficult questions Peter Krysa faced when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The Pittsfield resident had no close family, so he voiced his concerns to friends. He also turned to them to help organize his assets and meticulously plan how his estate could benefit his community.

Above all, he wanted to share his love of music. Peter played in many garage bands as a teenager in Fall River, Mass., and he always had a guitar by his side. Writing, performing and listening to songs of all genres, from classical to jazz, offered comfort for Peter throughout his life, especially in the final months before his death on Christmas Day in 2017.

He opened a designated fund at Berkshire Taconic that will provide grants to local music organizations like Berkshire Bach Society, Berkshires Jazz, Berkshire Music School and Music Mountain for many years to come. He also donated the bulk of his belongings—from bicycles to his car—to local nonprofits. He gifted his enormous CD collection to the Berkshire Athenaeum and his prized guitars, including a 1967 Gibson, to Berkshire Music School.

Teachers at the school quickly realized the guitars belonged in professional hands, so they sold a few with Peter’s blessing. One buyer chose to double the asking price and donate the funds directly to the organization. “Peter’s generosity created a ripple effect,” Executive Director Tracy Wilson said.

Peter’s fund at BTCF also supports issues ranging from voting rights to the protection of natural resources. His friends Clara Conner and Dan Stanton say the causes mirror Peter’s values of equality and fairness. The couple met Peter 40 years ago when Peter and Dan worked together as field engineers for General Electric. Clara became executor of Peter’s estate and they both were touched by his devotion to philanthropy near the end of his life. “He was a private person and so humble, but he cared very deeply,” Clara said. “We didn’t know how much he cared until after he passed away.”

Peter’s work with GE eventually brought him to Pittsfield, where he enjoyed early retirement and found a group of friends—his chosen family—who shared his joy for hiking, skiing and bicycling in the Berkshires. One friend, Hillary Filios, spent nearly every day with Peter during his final years. “He felt that whatever he had left should be given back to people,” she said. “I was so inspired by his strength and his determination to do it his way.”

In honor of her friend, Hillary installed a plaque on an Ashuwillticook Trail bench where Peter regularly ate lunch, watched birds, checked his mail and then hopped on his bicycle for a long ride. “Pete Krysa,” the plaque reads, “we will remember you.”

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