Publisher Peter Jennison dies

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(Host) Author and publisher Peter Jennison died on Monday. Jennison was a fifth generation Vermonter who never tired of exploring the state. As an owner of the Countryman Press, Jennison helped promote the work of many Vermont writers.

VPR’s Steve Zind has this remembrance.

(Zind) With his late wife, Jane, Peter Jennison revived the old Countryman Press in the kitchen of their Taftsville farmhouse. It was an appropriate setting for the rebirth of a publishing company that reflected Jennison’s love of all things Vermont. From history and hiking, to fiction and cooking, Countryman Press explored every corner of the state.

(Coffin) “I suspect there is a Countryman Press book on most Vermont bookshelves.”

(Zind) Author and historian Howard Coffin says it’s likely we all know a little more about the state thanks to Jennison.

(Coffin) “He said, ‘You know, Vermont is a small pond, but it’s a deep one.'”

(Zind) Jennison was both an editor and a writer. He penned numerous restaurant and inn reviews, wrote two novels and authored several Vermont histories. “Vermont: An Explorer’s Guide,” which he co-authored with Christina Tree has been published in eight editions.

Jennison’s love of his home state was deepened by a world of experience. He served overseas in World War II and afterward took a job as a Foreign Service officer in Sweden. Jennison worked in New York as an editor for Publisher’s Weekly before returning to Vermont in the early 1970s.

Coffin says Jennison’s lasting contribution is his work in promoting Vermont authors. He remembers approaching Jennison with an idea for his first book. Coffin thought the book would be a modest volume about Civil War places in Vermont.

(Coffin) “And Peter said, ‘That’s really not the book you want to write.’ And I said, ‘It isn’t?’ And Peter said, ‘Oh no, what you really want to write is a history of Vermont in the Civil War.’ He was an amazing editor.”

(Zind) Jennison was born in 1922 on his family’s farm in Swanton. He spent the past 32 years as an active member of the community in Woodstock. Jennison’s late brother Keith was the author of several books including, “Vermont is Where You Find It,” a collection of rural aphorisms.

The funeral service for Peter Jennison will be held next Monday morning at Saint James Episcopal Church in Woodstock.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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