It's Almost Like Losing a Family Member

Those peo­ple whose last names are Trump, Per­due or even Reden­backer; While those last names aren’t always house­hold words, invari­ably, some­one will ask them “Are you relat­ed to…” (any of those famous peo­ple with the same last names). For me and the rest of my fam­i­ly, we were always asked “Are you relat­ed to Peter Druck­er?” If the name doesn’t ring a bell, it’s because he was famous only in cer­tain cir­cles, notably amongst stu­dents and teach­ers of busi­ness and the the­o­ry of man­age­ment. With­out repeat­ing one of the bios that are out there (there’s a link to one at the end of this entry), Peter Druck­er was an immi­grant from Vien­na, like my moth­er, but the name obvi­ous­ly doesn’t come from that side of the fam­i­ly. (Anoth­er coin­ci­dence: He and I both stud­ied at Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty, and he took a course from the British econ­o­mist, John May­nard Keynes. My col­lege owned Keynes’s house, which they dubbed ‘Key­ne­side” — it was one of the two hous­es they had that housed grad­u­ate stu­dents. I lived in the oth­er house, Elm­side).

He’s main­ly known for his 30-odd books, includ­ing “The Con­cept of the Cor­po­ra­tion”, which was pub­lished in 1946 and is viewed these days as the sem­i­nal work for the field of Man­age­ment. I remem­ber a news­pa­per ad for “The Druck­er Library” (of man­age­ment books). My father clipped those words and put them on the door to (what else) his library/den. Druck­er got the US Medal of Free­dom in 2002, and is pret­ty much seen as the ‘Father of Mod­ern Man­age­ment’. Well, yes­ter­day, Peter Druck­er died at the age of 95.

Oth­er famous Druck­ers have includ­ed Stan­ley Druck­er, the first clar­inetist for the New York Phil­har­mon­ic in the 60’s and 70’s, (Note: I’ve been informed by an atten­tive read­er that Stan­ley is still the Prin­ci­pal Clar­inetist of that orches­tra. Talk about longevi­ty!) Eugene Druck­er, who is one of the vio­lin­ists in the Con­cord String Quar­tet, Michel Druck­er, a now-retired TV Talk show host in France (My par­ents always found it easy to make reser­va­tions there; they’d just say ‘Druck­er, comme Michel’), and it’s also the name of a man­u­fac­tur­er of most of the café chairs you see up and down the Champs-Elysées in Paris. Nev­er­the­less, it was Peter Druck­er that peo­ple always asked me if I was relat­ed to. Pam, who has the AOL address that Peter Druck­er would most like­ly have had, got half a dozen inquiries as to whether she was he or not, and peo­ple fre­quent­ly mis­re­mem­bered my first name as Peter.

So, even though I nev­er got to meet the guy, I sort of feel like I lost a famous uncle, or per­haps a cousin. Here’s to you, Pro­fes­sor Druck­er, and I hope I make it to 95 as well, if not longer.