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A Love of Learning: Karl and Peg Pfister

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Karl T. Pfister still remembers what his dad used to say when people asked him if he was from Vermont: “No, but I will die here.” Karl III passed away in early 2011, after living in his beloved state for 40 years. He and his wife Peg, who predeceased him, bought a farm in Landgrove in 1958 and spent a lot of time there before making it their home in 1971. Prior to moving to Vermont, Karl was a principal researcher at Merck and helped develop Aldomet, the first drug for the treatment of hypertension. It was at work that he met Peg who was a microbiologist at the company.

Karl and Peg were deeply engaged in their community. One project they undertook combined Peg’s passion for photography and Karl’s passion for research. It started as an effort to collect a few dozen historical pictures of Landgrove and its residents in preparation for the town’s 1980 bicentennial, but turned into something much more, resulting in the preservation and cataloging of more than 300 historical photographs of the local area. Says daughter Meg, “The photography project was one of many that embodied my dad’s belief that education is valuable for its own sake and happens in different environments, that it has applications beyond a career.”

As much as anything else, Karl loved to give. Whether it was sharing cider or apples from the farm or quietly making a loan to somebody in a tough spot, it brought him joy. It was no surprise to his children when Karl shared the plan to include the Pfister Fund for Vermont Education at the Foundation as part of the family estate. They are happy to know that this legacy of learning and curiosity will endure.