Peter A. Peyser
(September 7, 1921 – October 9, 2014)
Cannon Company, 393rd Infantry
Peyser was born on September 7, 1921 in Cedarhurst, Long Island, the son of Rubye Bentley and Percy Asher Peyser. He graduated from Dwight Preparatory School in New York and entered Colgate University in the fall of 1939 and graduated in December 1942. Peter enlisted in the Army in 1943 and joined the 99th Infantry Division as replacement. He was assigned to Cannon Company, 393rd Infantry.
He went through all major battles until VE Day. He remained in Germany in occupation duty until he was officially discharged in 1946. Upon returning home, he accepted a commission as second lieutenant with the Seventh Regiment of the New York National Guard, and later held the rank of captain. Returning to New York, Peyser worked for the Manhattan Life insurance company in the agency managed by his father, Percy A. Peyser. A few years later, he joined the Mutual of New York life insurance company as an agent. He later managed offices in White Plains, New York and Manhattan.
On December 23, 1949, he married Marguerite Richards, a native of Monroe, Louisiana. In 1951, the Peysers moved to Irvington, New York and raised five children
Peyser’s political career began in 1962 when he ran for Mayor of Irvington, New York. A community of 5,000 people. During four terms as Mayor, Peyser emphasized the need to upgrade the community’s parks and its recreation department. He also presided over the upgrade of the village’s water system.
In 1969, Peyser announced a candidacy for Congress as a Republican. He won the June primary and went on to win the general election. During his three terms in the House as a Republican, Peyser made a name for himself as a consumer activist on the Committee on Agriculture, as assignment usually not sought by New York Members. His major efforts were directed to the Committee on Education and Labor where he fought for improved student loan programs, aid to elementary and secondary education and better worker training programs. He played an important role on the « ERISA Task Force » set up by House leaders to develop the landmark legislation that governs employee benefit and retirement plans. Peyser was a staunch Nixon supporter and backed his Vietnam War policies. He was one of the last Members of the New York Congressional delegation to call for the President’s impeachment, doing so only days before Nixon announced his resignation.
In 1976, Peyser launched an attempt to wrest the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate but was defeated. Jilted by his party, he announced in early 1977 that he was changing to the Democratic party. Peyser easily gained election in 1978 and again in 1980. During his four years in Congress as a Democrat, Peyser continued his battle for improved student loan programs and fought for labor law reform.
Following his political career, Peyser re-entered the financial sector, where he assisted investment management firms in growing their portfolios through his relationships with labor unions and insurance companies. He worked for firms such as Daseke & Co, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. and Gabelli Asset Management, where he worked until his death.
On October 9, 2014, Peter Allen Peyser died of Parkinson’s disease. He was 93.