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Peter Edwin Bulkley Erdman, 95

Peter Edwin Bulkley Erdman of Princeton, NJ and Edgartown, MA passed away peacefully on December 20, 2023. He was 95 years old. Peter was the third of five sons born to Lucy Kidder Bulkley and Dr. Charles R. Erdman, Jr. His father was a professor of political science at Princeton University, a two-term mayor of Princeton Borough and the Commissioner of Economic Development for the State of New Jersey.

Peter was educated at Miss Fines and Princeton Country Day schools (graduating in 1943), Phillips Exeter Academy (Class of 1946), and Princeton University (Class of 1950), where he majored in the basic engineering program. While at Princeton he also pursued his love for ice hockey and lacrosse, and served as an officer of Dial Lodge.

Upon graduation Peter immediately went to work for Bethlehem Steel Company in Bethlehem, PA. When the Korean War started, he applied and was accepted for service as a naval aviator. But he ultimately served as an officer on the US Navy Destroyer, USS Conway, participating in operations in Korean waters and around the world from 1951-53.

Peter married Hope Hamilton English (“Patsy”), daughter of William H. and Margaret English of New York City and Edgartown, MA, on October 16, 1954, Reverend Charles R. Erdman, Sr. presiding. In 1955, he went to work for NJ Aluminum Extrusion Company, which had been co-founded by brother Harold. As VP of the company, he oversaw all technical operations of their extrusion business which grew to have operations in many parts of the country under various names. He and Patsy moved to Princeton in 1955, four children began to arrive, and they built their home on Russell Road where they lived for 48 years prior to moving to Stonebridge at Montgomery in 2004.

Peter presided over life on Russell Road with reason and understanding. He ensured the family always ate and played together. The house and yard were always full of neighbors’ children, dogs, and other pets. Peter relaxed through yard work, growing huge tomatoes, building playhouses, and co-hosting backyard touch football and July 4 celebrations.

Peter supported the community and alma maters throughout his life. He was a devoted alumnus of Princeton University. He chaired many class reunions, served as a Dial Lodge Trustee, and became (like his father) a regular fan at home varsity ice hockey and lacrosse games. Saturday nights at Baker Rink were often a family affair, and his children remember many raucous evenings spent there.

Retirement enabled Peter to put his self-taught carpentry skills to use. He volunteered weekly for Habitat for Humanity from 1988 through 2003 putting plastic siding on houses under construction in Trenton. After a knee injury put an end to his adult recreational hockey career, Peter discovered a passion for ice dancing. For many years, he skated with the Princeton Skating Club, passing his first ice dance test in 1970 and his final one in 1996, at the masters gold level. Peter continued to visit his beloved Edgartown home, named “Chapeda,” until the house was sold in 2015. Memories of summer visits to Martha’s Vineyard with ‘Grandpa’ are forever etched in the minds and hearts of his children and grandchildren as a great and precious gift.

Peter found comfort and inspiration from the Presbyterian faith, in which his family was deeply rooted. He was active as a Deacon in Nassau Presbyterian Church and served as a Trustee for Princeton Theological Seminary, filling the vacancy created by the resignation of his brother Harold.

Peter’s final years were physically challenging, but he remained forever an optimist. Prior to passing, he was able to express to family (in his customarily reflective fashion) that he was so privileged to have had a long and happy life surrounded by friends and loved ones. His children and grandchildren are sad, and we will miss our devoted father, friend, and advisor.

Peter is predeceased by his wife of 53 years, Hope English Erdman, and his brothers Charles R. Erdman, III and Harold Bulkley Erdman. He is survived by his four children, Margy (and Jim) Becker, Caroline E. Hare, William P. Erdman, Andrew E. Erdman, seven grandchildren, and his brothers David and Michael Erdman and their families.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Habitat for Humanity of South Central New Jersey, 530 Route 38 East, Maple Shade, NJ 08052 or https://www.habitatscnj.org or Arm In Arm, 1 N. Johnston Ave., Suite A230 Hamilton, NJ 08609 https://arminarm.org.

Graveside and memorial services are planned for spring 2024. Arrangements are under the direction of The Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton, NJ.

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