In Remembrance: Gregory Pechukas ’66 Died on July 21 2016

Gregory Pechukas passed away peacefully on July 21, 2016, at the age of 71. An attorney, he had worked at the Louisiana Supreme Court for 37 years, and was the longtime director of the court's central staff.

The New Orleans Advocate published a full obituary on July 29, 2016.

1 remembrance

  • Thaddeus Tuleja
    Thaddeus Tuleja, 4:33am June 23 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    It was with great sadness that I learned of the death last summer of our classmate Gregory Pechukas. Greg and I were fellow members of Timothy Dwight College and of the divisional major History, the Arts, and Letters, in which he distinguished himself with a senior thesis on, if I remember correctly, a single movement of a Mahler symphony. He was passionate about classical music, and at a time when the hallways rang endlessly with the sounds of the Beatles, Greg’s thundering Wagner recordings provided a unique counterpoint.

    Greg had a keen wit, a rambunctious energy, and a wry gift for puncturing pretension. I was the recipient of that gift once when he twitted me for mixing metaphors. I had written in a paper that there was a pitfall lurking in a certain argument. “Pray tell,” Greg asked me slyly, “if a pitfall is essentially a hole, how then can it lurk?” On another occasion, during one of our post-lunch coffee marathons, someone was struggling to explain das Absolute, the German idealist notion of a transcendent reality. Greg lifted the lid of a sugar bowl, peered inside, and shouted gleefully, “Aha! Das Absolute!” Like Hamlet’s Yorick, he was “a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.”

    After graduation Greg and I stayed in touch for a while, exchanging letters between Penn, where he was in law school, and Cornell, where I was in graduate school, and in 1969 we drove across the country together, from LA to DC. When he settled in New Orleans to practice law, though, we lost touch. When Katrina struck in 2005, I left a message on his answering machine but didn’t hear back. I regret to this day that I never followed up on that call.

    According to his obituary in the New Orleans Advocate, Greg worked for many years directing the Central Staff of the Louisiana Supreme Court, where he was known for his “sense of humor and quirky demeanor.” That fit the young man I knew, although the years since Yale had also obviously enlarged him, as he became a dog lover, a mountain climber, a supporter of the Innocence Project, and a loving father. His son Zachary is studying law at Washington and Lee University.

    It’s strange that you can be hit so hard by the death of someone you haven’t seen in nearly forty years. Yet I do feel that. In the obituary photograph, Greg has the same wide-eyed, puckish expression that he had at twenty. In my memory he will always remain that bright presence: deeply insightful, irrepressibly playful,
    forever young.

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