Peter J. Pfeffer

Peter J. Pfeffer of Port Washington lived his life by following his passions, whether they were managing money or raising cattle or just learning about mulberries, his daughter Ann Johnson said.

“He was amazing,” she said. “He had a zest for life and an amazing mind. He always wanted to learn. He would get an interest, learn everything to do with it and do it for awhile — until the next thing came along. Whatever it was, he was completely involved in it.

“He was someone who was going to do what he wanted to do when he wanted to do it.”

His most recent interest was mulberries, she said — something sparked when they drove past a sign advertising a farm with mulberries for sale.

“That night, he got on the Internet and it was nothing but mulberries for a month,” his daughter said. “He learned about how they taste and how they grow and how to make mulberry jam. He got a catalog so we could order a mulberry tree. He planned where to plant it.”

Mr. Pfeffer, a former Town of Fredonia resident, died of cancer Tuesday, Oct. 9, at his Port Washington home. He was 77.

He was born on July 21, 1941, in Milwaukee, the son of Robert and Margaret Siegel Pfeffer.

He grew up in Brown Deer, graduating from Custer High School in 1959.

He served with the U.S. Marine Corps and later the Marine Reserves, then ran a Clark gas station and later ran a paint store that specialized in boat paint — a venture he got into because he enjoyed racing sailboats, his daughter said.

Mr. Pfeffer then discovered the world of finance and went to school in New York to become a stockbroker, she said. He worked initially as a stockbroker, then got into securities and derivatives, eventually becoming executive vice president and director of various financial companies.

He managed many facets of investment and proprietary trading, including product development and corporate finance.

At the same time, he purchased a 200-acre farm in the Town of Fredonia and raised Texas longhorn cattle there — the first person in the State of Wisconsin to do so, his daughter said.

He was an excellent horseman as well, in part to help herd the cattle, his daughter said, and he eventually began to compete in rodeo events such as pole bending and barrel racing with her.

“Every weekend in the summer we would be at horse shows,” she said.  “He always wanted to be a cowboy. He would wear his Western-cut suits and cowboy boots in the business world.

“And all the while he was building a career as a stockbroker and working in commodities, he had this second life as a cowboy and rodeo rider. He wasn’t willing to give up either part of his life. Every single day he would commute from Fredonia to downtown Chicago for work.”

Mr. Pfeffer sold his cattle after a fire in 1988 burned down the barns, his daughter said, but he continued to live there and raise horses until 1992, when he moved back to Chicago.

Mr. Pfeffer, who retired in 2001, continued to work as an expert in his field, serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases.

“He was still working on cases to the end. That really kept him going,” his daughter said.        Through the years, Mr. Pfeffer pursued other passions, including shooting clay pigeons with his sons Mike and John, riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles, sailing and power boating.

A die-hard Green Bay Packers fan, he attended his first game at Lambeau Field this year — the first game of the season against the Chicago Bears.

And just a year ago, he traded in his Lincoln Town Car for a Chrysler Crossfire, his daughter said.

“He said, ‘I’ve never had a sports car before,’” she said. “He just loved that car. I’m sure he was well known for driving his sports car through town at 10 mph.”

Mr. Pfeffer married Crissy Miller in Waukegan, Ill., on June 27, 2007.

She died on Dec. 19, 2008.

The couple kept a powerboat in the Port Washington marina.

“That’s where he fell in love with Port,” his daughter said, adding he moved to Port Washington, where he was a member of the Yacht Club, after his wife’s death.

Her father had a big personality, she said, and he made friends easily.

“He brightened everybody’s day,” she said. “He would talk to anybody and everybody.”

Mr. Pfeffer was a former member of the Chicago Board of Trade and the National Futures Association.

He is survived by his children, Ann (Nels) Johnson of Port Washington, Michael (Beth) of Brighton, Colo., and John of Mundelein, Ill.; grandchildren Sydney Johnson and Mackenzie, Cassidy, Landon and Noah Pfeffer; and sister Roberta (Dave) Carlson of Peoria, Ill.

In addition to his wife, he was preceded in death by his parents and brother Stephen.

A celebration of Mr. Pfeffer’s life will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov, 17, at the Port Washington Yacht Club. Military honors will be held at 4 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorials to the Port Washington Yacht Club Scholarship Fund are suggested.

Funeral arrangements are being handled through Eernisse Funeral Home, Port Washington.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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