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.