Lily Peter didn’t graduate from Moravian College, but family, a passion for the arts, and love of education wove a strong bond to Bethlehem and the college. Her relatives included the first organist of Central Moravian Church and a former Moravian College President. Peter was born on her parents’ farm in 1891 in Marvell, Arkansas, the oldest of 10 children. Five of her siblings died, and she lost her father when she was 16, so after high school she became a teacher to help support her family and send four of her siblings to college. Later, those siblings would return the favor, paying for Lily’s college education at Columbia University, where she majored in English, and then Vanderbilt, where she earned a master’s degree. She also studied violin at Juilliard.
In 1978, Peter funded the renovation of the New Chapel into a recital hall, which was then named Peter Hall in her honor. Peter died on July 26 in her hometown of Marvell. She was 100 years old. Peter led a remarkable life as an educator, poet, musician, farmer, and benefactor. She was a truly revolutionary woman. Here, a story about Peter that originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times on October 6, 1985.