Peter Behr: Letter to a 6th-Grade Student

by Laurie Thompson

Peter H. Behr. Anne T. Kent Room Collection.

We are grateful to Francis Brooks who recently donated a wonderful hand-written letter from Peter Behr in which Behr provides a brief autobiography and explains the workings of County government for a local history project Brooks was working on as a 6th-grader in 1968.

The fact that Behr, then a Marin County Supervisor, took the time to hand-write a three-page letter to a young student, epitomizes Behr’s generosity and commitment to public service.

Behr writes:

“Dear Francis, Here is the information you requested, but in summary form, on my life, election, work as a Supervisor, and so forth, and I am glad you chose county government, and a county supervisor, rather than a Senator, or a Congressman, because we are often overlooked in today’s popularity contests, although local government, while not so glamorous, is just as important to most people on a day-to-day basis as is the State and Federal Government.”

“I trust your Report will have no sentences in it as long as my first one!”

“…. You can tell your classmates that the County is the geographical unit through which most Federal and State programs are administered, that if people are not interested in finding out what kind of local officials they havey, they should not complain when the programs they read about fail, because even good programs, to be successful, must be intelligently implemented, and in the final analysis the United States is composed of counties through which and in which programs succeed or fail, and nothing much else.”

“It seemed to me that I should not properly charge the County for this letter, because it was a pleasure to answer yours, so I hope you can read my writing.”

“Your Friend, Peter H. Behr”

Originally published at



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Anne T. Kent California Room

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