Peter Wood Waldron, 69, was a scenic designer, arts center manager, teacher, husband and father who loved life, loved the arts and loved showing people a good time.
Born in Birmingham, Ala., Waldron was the oldest child of Martin O. Waldron Jr, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporter, and Ann Wood Waldron, a journalist and author. With his three younger siblings, Peter grew up in Tallahassee, Fla., and Houston, Texas, as the family relocated in support of Martin’s journalism career.
Peter enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin and majored in technical theater. He also worked as a stage manager at Austin’s famed Paramount Theatre.
Peter spent the early’80s in the Pacific Northwest, serving as resident designer at The Evergreen State College and at Reed College. He was a founding member of Artists Repertory Theater at Portland, Ore. Peter then moved to New York City to pursue graduate studies in the Performing Arts Institute of New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts.
Peter married then fiancée Catherine Heimsath, and soon had an opportunity to join the faculty of Bradford College in Haverhill, where Catherine and Peter continued to reside for all their 37 years of marriage.
During his Bradford College years, Peter served as chair of the college’s Creative Arts Program, chaired the City of Haverhill’s Arts Commission (later renamed the Cultural Council), and co-founded the Pentucket Arts Center, a nonprofit dedicated to arts education, which remained active from 1996 until 2014. Peter also served on the board of Winnekenni Castle, and volunteered for many years at Community Meals, serving free, freshly cooked meals to over 100 needy people each week in the Haverhill Citizens Center. Peter served as technical director and adjunct professor at Merrimack College and earned a Master’s Degree in Arts Administration from Goucher College. He was an active member of the Haverhill Rotary Club for many years.
In the 1990s he served as technical director for River Arts, a summer theater company in the Bearsville Theatre in Woodstock, N.Y. Peter designed lighting for the American premiere of Edward Albee’s play, “Three Tall Women,” which went on the Broadway.
Also at River Arts, Peter and Catherine befriended a group of visiting actors from the Soviet Union.
As a freelancer, Peter designed sets for the Pentucket Players, Burlington High School, Watertown Children’s Theatre, the Boston Conservatory and other community and professional theaters in the Boston area. His scenery for “I Hate Hamlet” at StageWest in Springfield, won a best design award.
In recent years, Peter manager the American Arts Center at Middlesex Community College, and served as adjunct faculty at Middlesex Community College and at Endicott College.
Beginning in 2013, Peter enjoyed ten seasons with Theatre Workshop of Nantucket, a professional nonprofit theater established in 1956. TWN is “the place where Nantucket meets Broadway.”
As the years went by, younger son Ruben became increasingly skilled in carpentry and became his Papa’s capable assistant.
Ruben died in 2017, a devastating loss for Peter and the entire family.
In the years since, Peter threw himself into his work, if anything at a faster pace and with a heavier load of commitments than ever before.
In the early morning hours of Sunday, June , Peter died suddenly and peacefully in his sleep, of natural causes, at home with his family in Haverhill, after decades living a full and joyful life while successfully managing his serious health issues.
Peter is survived by his wife, Catherine Heimsath Waldron, their son, Eric Santa; one sister, Lolly O’Brien and her husband, Richard O’Brien of Trenton, N.J.; two brothers, Tommy Waldron (and his wife Stephanie Shapiro) of Baltimore, Md., and Martin aka “Boojie” Waldron and his wife Roxane Shelley Waldron of Olympia, Wash.; mother-in-law Maryann Heimsath of Fayetteville, Texas, as well as, a multitude of extended family, dear friends, amazing students and mentees, and treasured professional colleagues and associates. Peter was predeceased by his parents, Ann, and Martin Waldron; by his younger son, Ruben Santa-Waldron; and by his father-in-law, Clovis Heimsath.
Calling hours will be Thursday, July 13, from 4-7 p.m. ,at Dole, Childs & Shaw Funeral Home, 148 Main St., Haverhill. The funeral will be at All Saints Parish on Friday, July 14, at 10 a.m., to be followed by inurnment in St. James Cemetery. Everyone who knew and loved Peter is encouraged to attend the funeral Mass and burial and will be invited to join the family afterwards at a luncheon reception to share food, drink, and stories, to celebrate Peter’s life. Peter’s family will continue to maintain his website, PeterWoodWaldron.com, to offer additional ways to share memories and remain connected.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that bequests be made in Peter’s memory to Saint Ann’s Home, attn: Development Office, 100A Haverhill St., Methuen, MA 01844, or online at st.annshome.org. All donations in honor of Peter Waldron will support cultural enrichment and arts education materials and programs. Alternatively, please consider donations of your time, talent, and treasure to your local nonprofit arts organization. And Peter’s memory is always honored when you spring for the check, tip the waitstaff generously, or buy a round of coffee, tea, or something stronger for whatever gathering you find yourself in. Keep the party going.