Peter Makepeace Coxe passed away peacefully under hospice care on Nov. 5 due to complications from a stroke. Despite his increasing disability in recent months, he displayed his trademark qualities of kind-heartedness, composure and dry humor right up until the end. We will miss him dearly.
Peter was born in Montclair, New Jersey, on March 8, 1941, to Dorothy Makepeace Coxe and Gerald Murray Coxe. He spent his early years in Warwick Neck, Rhode Island, and spirited summers at Camp Dudley in upstate New York.
He graduated from the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut (Class of 1959) and Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts (Class of 1963). At Williams, he discovered his lifelong passion for art history and design.
He subsequently enrolled at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, earning a master-of-architecture degree in 1967. Throughout his life, Peter was loyal to his alma maters and the many friendships he formed at each.
Peter met his wife, Dale, in Boston in the winter of 1965. They married in 1967 and spent their early years in the city before moving to Marblehead, where they would live for the next 40 years.
During that time, they raised two children, Robin and Sam, and developed deep, lifelong friendships.
Always outdoor enthusiasts, the family enjoyed skiing throughout New England, hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and sailing in Maine.
Peter particularly loved the sea and spent many happy summers navigating Penobscot Bay and Mt. Desert, picnicking on remote island beaches, and trolling for mackerel in Muscongus Bay.
Peter and Dale also traveled widely, with adventures in Europe, Asia, South America and New Zealand. Peter approached new cultures with curiosity and warmth, studying the Italian language in Siena (where he was a despairing but dogged student), vocally supporting his children in their decisions to live outside the United States, and opening his home to international exchange students.
Peter loved his work and had an accomplished 40-year career in architecture, including 20 years as the sole proprietor of Peter Coxe Associates until his retirement in 2007. He was a lifelong advocate for approachable, functional and sustainable design.
He was particularly passionate about architectural lighting design, which he helped to pioneer both in the United States and internationally.
Among his many local projects, he lit the exteriors and public spaces of the Boston Public Library, Boston’s Custom House Tower, Trinity and Old South Churches, Boston Waterfront Park, the USS Constitution (Charlestown Navy Yard) and Pilgrim Memorial/Plymouth Rock.
Peter’s design skills were also put to good use in his family’s life, constructing their home on Marblehead Neck and delighting his kids with his help creating Halloween costumes, castles and forts, and school projects.
As they pursued their own careers, Peter’s personal enjoyment of his chosen profession was a valued guidepost. He also passed on to them his dedication to a job well done, always bidding farewell with the exhortation, “Work hard!”
In 2010, Peter and Dale relocated to Ketchum, Idaho, where they made new friends and reconnected with old ones, while continuing to enjoy outdoor pursuits (finally, real powder!).
Following their return to Boston in 2015, they resided in the Back Bay, enjoying the city where they started their lives together and continuing to travel widely.
Peter lived by Camp Dudley’s motto, which asks us to put “The Other Fellow First.” As a husband, he was unfailingly loving, considerate and supportive. As a father, he was patient, kind and ready with heartfelt advice. He cared for and was a loyal presence in his many friends’ lives.
Peter loved children and animals, and never met a kid, dog or cat that he did not like (and the feeling was mutual).
He gave back to his community, volunteering at historical and professional societies in Marblehead, Boston and Ketchum, donating his architectural expertise to support public and charitable works around the world, and sponsoring children in need.
Peter is survived by his wife of 56 years, Dale, and his two children, Robin Coxe of Denver, Colorado, and Sam Coxe of London, England.
Never one for fanfare, Peter has asked to forgo a memorial service. Instead, the family will host a celebration of life in 2024.
Should you wish, please consider making a donation in Peter’s memory to one of the following Mass General Hospital charities: MGH Stroke Service Fund | Parkinson’s Disease Research Fund. The website link for donations is: https://giving.massgeneral.org/donate. Please include Peter’s name in the tribute section and type the name of the fund(s) in the box called “designate this gift to a specific program or area.”
Or, if you prefer, the mailing address for checks is: Mass General Development Office, 125 Nashua St., Suite 540, Boston, MA 02114. Check donors should write a short note indicating their gift is in Peter’s memory and the fund(s) they’d like to support.
Peter’s online tribute is available at joycefuneralhome.com.