Peter Terpeluk Jr., ambassador, Republican fund-raiser

Posted: August 25, 2011

Peter Terpeluk Jr., 63, the executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Economic Development Coalition in the 1980s who later was ambassador to Luxembourg from 2002 to 2005, died of a heart attack Tuesday, Aug. 23, at his home in Chevy Chase, Md.

He was pronounced dead at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md.

David Girard-diCarlo, a shareholder in the Philadelphia law firm Cozen O'Connor and a former chairman of the firm Blank Rome, said Mr. Terpeluk was stricken as he was about to depart for meetings in Texas with aides to Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

"He was working very diligently with Perry" on his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, said Girard-diCarlo, a friend for 25 years. He spoke by phone from Santa Fe, N.M.

Mr. Terpeluk was a finance co-chairman for the two presidential campaigns of George H.W. Bush and held a similar job with George W. Bush's campaigns, Girard-diCarlo said.

The National Journal reported that he was also finance chairman of the Republican National Committee from July 2009 to the end of 2010.

"He was compassionate, intense, and very committed," Girard-diCarlo said, citing Mr. Terpeluk's "deep faith as a Roman Catholic."

Since leaving Luxembourg, Girard-diCarlo said, Mr. Terpeluk had been of counsel to the American Continental Group, a Washington lobbying firm that he had joined in 1994.

A 1984 Inquirer story, reporting on his work as head of the Greater Philadelphia Economic Development Coalition, noted that he had earlier been the regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration.

A biography on the website of the Council of American Ambassadors says Mr. Terpeluk "founded the consulting firm Terpeluk and Associates in 1986, which he continued to operate while simultaneously a principal in the Washington office of the firm Wojdak and Associates (in) 1989-1993.

"In 1990, President George H.W. Bush appointed Mr. Terpeluk to the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Commission" and, before his tour of duty in Luxembourg, he was a lawyer with the Forum for International Policy.

In 2007, Mr. Terpeluk was named to the board of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia at the same time that the first President Bush was named to be chairman of the board.

Mr. Terpeluk graduated from Malvern Preparatory School in 1966. A family friend, Joan McEntee, said Tuesday that he received a bachelor of arts degree in 1970 from what is now La Salle University, a master's in public administration from Rider College in 1972, and honorary doctorates from La Salle in 2004 and Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., in 2007.

The Council website said he began his career as town manager for two townships from 1972 to 1981. Mr. Terpeluk's brother, Paul, said that he worked first for Lower Merion and then for Lower Moreland.

Mr. Terpeluk was on the Sacred Heart board of directors and was an advisory board member at the School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., McEntee said.

Besides his brother, Mr. Terpeluk is survived by his wife, Diane; son, Peter III; daughter, Meredith; and sister, Patricia Lynn Anderson.

A viewing is scheduled for 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25, at Joseph Gawler's Sons, 5130 Wisconsin Ave. N.W., in Washington.

A memorial Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 26, at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, 1725 Rhode Island Ave. N.W., in Washington. Burial site is to be determined.


Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or wnaedele@phillynews.com.

Inquirer staff writer Sally Downey contributed to this article.

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