Peter died Sept. 6, 2021, after a five-year struggle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Until his illness he was a prosecutor serving as an assistant district attorney of New York County (Manhattan), moving in 1996 to the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office, eventually serving as bureau chief in that division. Peter also performed as a professional magician and served in a number of roles in the Armenian Evangelical Church of New York.

Raised in Rhode Island, Peter graduated from Cranston High School East, where he excelled at debate and violin. At Princeton, he concentrated his studies in the Woodrow Wilson School, was active in the Whig-Clio Debate Panel, and took up the avocation of performing magic tricks.

After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton, Peter continued at Yale Law School, where he earned a law degree in 1979. He joined the team at the Manhattan district attorney’s office as an assistant to Robert Morgenthau, and remained as a career prosecutor there for 40 years. He loved mentoring young legal minds and served as director of legal training for some years. In 2019, the Manhattan district attorney’s office decided to rename its prosecutorial training center the Peter M. Kougasian Training Center.

Peter was a devoted family man and took great pride in his Armenian heritage. He was also a Francophile and devoted to reading Proust. 

At his funeral, lifelong friend and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor ’76 delivered a eulogy that said, in part: “Peter was brilliant in so many ways. He epitomized the Renaissance man. He was a lawyer, a philosopher, a scholar, an educator, a performer, and a prolific reader and writer. He was also one of the wittiest men in the world.” The class officers send deepest sympathy to Peter’s wife, Beth, and son Alex.

Undergraduate Class of 1976