The Peter M. Deane Fitness Center at NCHS
Peter moved with his family from Darien to New Canaan when he was in elementary school. As he progressed through the public school system he developed into an exceptional athlete. Pete was a slim six-footer who had many aptitudes and skills, but it was his speed that truly set him apart from his peers. He excelled in football, basketball, baseball and track. For many years he held the record for the longest touchdown run from scrimmage for the varsity Rams football team and was a member of the state champion basketball team.
Following graduation Pete married local beauty Ingrid Girard and began a career in the kitchen design and construction business. He eventually started his own company in that field and was soon recognized as the standard against which others were measured. Pete and Ingrid produced daughter Carrie and son Peter, Jr. who went on to impressive athletic accomplishments of their own at NCHS and beyond. As he achieved success and recognition in his chosen profession, Pete found numerous avenues for public service and contributed to the town of New Canaan in many ways. He had a large number of friends from every segment of the town’s population and was a much admired citizen.
On July 28, 1991 Pete suffered a massive heart attack with no warning and died immediately. The shock of his death was felt most deeply by his family, but did not spare his friends and acquaintances. The line outside Hoyt’s Funeral Home was one of the longest in memory as the townspeople tried to digest this tragic and untimely loss. A group of Peter’s friends started to meet informally to explore a worthy memorial to this exceptional man. After several unsuccessful ideas, Paul Dauk, Dave Elders, Mike Hobbs, Skip Raymond, Joe Rucci and Brock Saxe, classmates since the third grade, met with NCHS Athletic Director Vinnie Iovino and agreed that a state-of-the-art fitness facility available to all students at New Canaan High School would be an appropriate and fitting memorial to Peter’s life.
As the group moved into fund-raising mode they quickly discovered that the mention of Peter’s name and a description of the proposed Fitness Center produced a large number of enthusiastic donors and the substantial cost of the project was quickly raised. There were several large contributions, but the most gratifying part of the effort was the sheer number of people who wanted to honor Pete. Vinnie oversaw the construction and equipping of the facility which was dedicated with Ingrid, Carrie and Peter, Jr. standing proudly at the entrance on November 21, 1992. At the time Vinnie believed it was the finest high school fitness center in the state and the students flocked to use it while Vinnie invited his peers to visit and express their envy.
The Center was decommissioned during the major reconstruction of the High School building between 2005-2006, but rose again, new and improved in a new location, with the same mission and still in memory of one of New Canaan’s finest athletes and citizens. – Peter M. Deane.