A series of profound life events during the pandemic put love, purpose, and legacy into perspective for Peter Schilling, civil rights attorney and environmentalist.
Why did you choose to study at BC Law? Growing up in the Pine Barrens, a large forested area in New Jersey, I could fish and walk all day and not see another human being. I loved the outdoors, but I didn’t have a clear sense of what I wanted to do. As an undergrad at Lehigh, where I studied journalism, politics, and business, one of my professors knew Robert F. Drinan, SJ, former dean of BC Law, and saw something in me that I hadn’t yet realized. When I went to visit the green, beautiful campus, I knew it was the right place for me.
Which BC Law professors made the biggest impact on you? Zyg Plater, Buzzy Baron, and Bob Bloom served as powerful examples of what was possible. They helped us realize what we could do in the world and what our reach could be. Professor Plater would tell us, “Go out and cast your nets; trust yourself to do the right thing; do what your heart tells you to do.” My heart was always in the outdoors. Although I pursued civil rights law for my career, my pro bono work has been focused on the climate, working with Trout Unlimited and playing a lead role in getting the Rivers Protection Act passed in Massachusetts. BC Law helped me find my path and gave me the ability to complete a life mission I didn’t know was there.
What led you to make a bequest to BC Law? Over the past ten months, my wife Roberta and I have experienced significant highs and lows. After getting married in the spring, and living through the nightmare of Roberta’s mom’s death shortly after, we updated our wills. I considered the things that made a significant impact on my life, and BC Law was it. I want to give back to BC Law so students continue to graduate with a sense of mission and purpose to make the world a better place.
Do you still find time to be outdoors? We have a garden and I clam at the beach in Falmouth, Massachusetts. Fishing is still a big part of my life. We have a fishing camp on the Matapedia River in Quebec, where I have spent a good part of every summer since the 1990s. The fish in the photo here is probably twenty pounds. It’s one of my favorite pictures. No faking that smile.
Peter’s decision to include BC Law in his estate plan allows us to celebrate his generosity during his lifetime through membership in the Shaw Society. For more information, please visit bc.edu/joinshaw.
To discuss your giving options with your partners in the Office of Gift Planning, please contact us at 877-304-SHAW or email@example.com.