Robert Anderson “Andy” Pew’s lifelong service to his family’s charitable and business interests—including 55 years as a member of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ board of directors—led many to view him as a peerless steward of his family’s legacy. On June 25, Andy Pew died in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. He was 85.
“Andy was extremely proud of his service to the organization,” said Pew president and CEO Susan K. Urahn. “He was proud of our accomplishments, stalwart in his support of our Philadelphia programs, and held a deep enthusiasm for all our programmatic activities.”
As a member of the board of directors since 1967, Mr. Pew saw the organization’s transformation from a private grantmaker anonymously serving communities primarily in the Philadelphia region to a public charity engaged in addressing global challenges. Profound changes are rare among foundations, but Mr. Pew encouraged and actively embraced such thinking, once saying that the institution’s founders “did indeed think freely and dare to experiment. They seldom were inclined to accept what was, if they could find something better. On the other hand, they felt there were certain enduring truths that would be just as valid 100,000 years from now—individual freedom, fundamental morality—and those they embraced. They never saw any inconsistency between holding their beliefs and adapting to a changing world.”
During his tenure as a director, Mr. Pew worked closely with family members and others to help shape and grow the Trusts’ grantmaking portfolio, and later, its programmatic work. For instance, he collaborated with his cousin and fellow board director J. Howard “Howdy” Pew II to start the organization’s environmental grantmaking in the 1970s. Andy Pew often said he was inspired after reading Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring in 1962.
Throughout his life, Mr. Pew was deeply engaged in service. Along with his dedication to Pew, he was a director on the board of The Glenmede Trust Company and supported several Philadelphia-area organizations, including the Academy of Music, the Curtis Institute of Music, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr Hospital, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. He was on the committee involved in planning the Philadelphia Bicentennial in 1976 and played a part in establishing the Brandywine Conservancy and the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.
In addition to his professional achievements, Mr. Pew was proud of being a pilot and a sailor. He bought a Piper Comanche in 1965 and piloted it until a few years ago, and he owned a classic A-class gaff-rigged sloop, “Gull,” which he enjoyed sailing near his home in Maine. Mr. Pew served as trustee of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for 44 years, the longest serving board member in the organization’s history.
Born in Philadelphia in 1936, Mr. Pew was the great-grandson of Sun Oil Company founder Joseph Newton Pew and his wife, Mary Anderson Pew. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Temple University and a master’s degree in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mr. Pew served as president of the Helios Capital Corporation and Radnor Corporation (Sun Company subsidiaries) and as a director and corporate secretary for Sun Company Inc. He was the last family member to have worked at Sun.
Mr. Pew was predeceased by his parents and a son, Robert Anderson Pew Jr., and by his brother Arthur E. Pew III. He is survived by his wife, Daria Decerio Pew, and their son, as well as two sons and one daughter from a previous marriage, and his half brother Sandy Ford Pew, who is a member of Pew’s board of directors.
Former Pew board chair and current director Robert H. Campbell noted that he and the organization’s leadership would continue to be inspired by Mr. Pew’s values and dedication. “Andy Pew was resolutely loyal—to his family, his hometown, and this institution,” Campbell said. “The entire organization misses him, and we share our deepest sympathies with his family.”