TC Mourns Alumnus Samuel Peabody, Educator and Philanthropist | Teachers College Columbia University

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TC Mourns Alumnus Samuel Peabody, Educator and Philanthropist

Samuel Peabody (M.A. ’59)
Samuel Peabody (M.A. ’59)
Teachers College alumnus Samuel Peabody (M.A. ’59), a former teacher who was one of New York City’s leading philanthropists, died in early May at age 92.

Peabody came from New England royalty: His great-uncle was a founder of the investment firm Kidder, Peabody; his grandfather founded the Groton School in Massachusetts; his father, Malcolm, was a bishop in the Episcopal church; his brother, Endicott, was governor of Massachusetts in the 1960s, and his sister, Marietta Tree, was appointed by President John F. Kennedy to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

After serving in World War II and spending two years on Wall Street as a young man, Peabody quit to become a substitute teacher and some-time soccer coach at St. Bernard’s, the Manhattan private school that he had attended. He enrolled at Teachers College a year later and spent most of the next two decades as an educator, including a stint as a lower school principal in Rye, New York. 

In 1951, Peabody met 20-year-old Bryn Mawr graduate Judith Anne Walker at a dinner party, and the two became engaged a week later. They were married for 52 years, until her death in 2010. Together, in 1967, the Peabodys founded Reality House, a drug rehabilitation center in Harlem, where Judy Peabody also worked as a discussion leader with former heroin users confronting addiction.  She later worked with youth gangs in East Harlem and became a major supporter of Gay Men’s Health Crisis.

Sam Peabody subsequently served as director of Broad Jump, which hired teachers to work on weekends and during the summer with at risk students; backed the launch of Prep for Prep, which prepares promising students of color for success at independent schools; and chaired Citizens Committee for Children, which advocates for children’s and family issues and amasses research to help legislators in Albany restore funds to key social programs. In 2011, he received TC’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Sam Peabody is survived by his daughter, Elizabeth Peabody, his brother Malcolm Peabody Jr., and many nieces and nephews.

Read a profile of Sam Peabody that appeared in TC Today magazine in 2010.

Published Thursday, Jun 1, 2017

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