My Grandfather, Peter Drucker, Died Today

My grandfather, Peter F. Drucker, passed away this morning. The news has just started to get out, but already there have been many write-ups of his life and death; but the best ones so far are by Bloomberg (summarizes his life story) and Business Week.

For me it is a strange feeling to adjust to his passing, even though at age 95 it was not entirely unexpected. My grandfather was the central pillar of my family and was a huge personal and professional inspiration to me, and to countless others around the world who studied with him, read his books, and worked with him over the years. He lived a legendary life, founded the field of management science, helped define modern corporations, originated the concept of the "knowledge worker," and wrote more than 30 books. He was also a professor, historian, economist and social theorist. In his spare time (for fun), as well as reading encyclopedias, biographies, histories and the entire literary corpus of western civilization (several times over), he collected and studied classical Japanese and Chinese paintings, eventually becoming a professor of Japanese art. And in addition to this, he also devoted tremendous time and energy to working with nonprofits, governments, non-governmental organizations and religious organizations.

My memories of him are of long walks as a child in the mountains, discussing history, philosophy, business, and the future of civilization. He was the person who taught me how to divine the future from the past, and to analyze the nature of systems of all kinds. Although I was no match for his photographic memory and vast knowledge, I was able to learn patterns and approaches from him that have served me in everything I have done. I’ll also remember the feeling of his home where, amongst the minimalist imagery of the Japanese and Chinese ink paintings he collected, and walls upon walls of books, there was always a tangible sense of being in the presence of a sage. As I grew up and he grew more famous, I remember that whenever I visited him there was a constant flow of leaders coming to meet with him, interview him, or simply to ask for his insight and advice. He truly was a guru.

He was a great man, a Renaissance Man — the kind that comes along only once in a century. He will be missed.