WILTON, CONN. — Peter K. Warren, active in the beverage industry for almost 70 years and the man responsible for Pepsi Cola’s market entry into more than 100 countries over three decades, died June 7. He was 94.
Recognized by friends and business associates from around the world as a true beverage industry icon and an inspirational global business leader, Peter possessed the charisma and business acumen to meet the formidable challenges faced by many companies entering international markets for the first time. His cultural sensitivity and interpersonal skills enabled him to build strong and lasting partnerships wherever he planted the Pepsi flag.
Although Peter began his career with Coca-Cola, he quickly moved to Pepsi in 1950 when it was still a one-product company. He was promoted to president of Pepsi Cola International in 1963 after having served as vice president of marketing the previous four years. He ran Pepsi’s international business, later as CEO of its international division, for decades and served on Pepsi’s board of directors, as well. Upon Peter’s retirement in 1985, Pepsi enjoyed revenues in excess of $7.5 billion, employed more than 137,000, and marketed products in 150 countries and territories.
Social responsibility and a desire to help the youth within the many countries that Pepsi entered was always a focus of Peter’s approach. When, in 1972, Brazilian soccer star and “national treasure” Pele was approaching retirement, Peter signed the athlete to a global agreement to represent Pepsi while also providing a platform on which, according to Peter, “Pele could play an active role in programs aimed to service the youth through a game played in 115 countries.”
After retiring from PepsiCo in 1985, Peter continued in the beverage industry as chairman of Monsieur Henri Wines, Ltd, brand developer of Stolichnaya Vodka, as well as its successor company, MHW, Ltd, currently an industry leader in beverage alcohol import and distribution services.
Peter Warren grew up in New York City, a product of the Depression, as he often commented. He enlisted in the army during World War II, leaving the service as a captain seven years later at the war’s conclusion.
While developing his business career, Peter and his cherished first wife, Maria, combined their love of travel with a passion for the fine arts and collecting. Travelers, collectors and connoisseurs, they established Maria and Peter Warren Antiques. Following Maria’s death in 1991, Peter remained active in the antiques business and was joined by his beloved daughter, A.J., who continues the enterprise.
Creativity, vision, charm, wit, formidable negotiation skills and social responsibility are just a few of the attributes that come to mind when describing Peter. Aside from work and hobbies, Peter also generously supported his local community. In particular he served as a two-term president of the Wilton Historical Society.
He was also very active in supporting higher education and served as the former chairman of the Council of Governing Boards in New York State. In that capacity he helped push legislation for affordable tuition at 110 independent colleges in the state. In 1984, President Reagan awarded Warren a commendation for his support of secondary education.
Most important, Peter was a beloved husband, father, grandfather and uncle who cherished his remarkable family. After Maria’s death, Peter found happiness with Holly Wright, who he married in 2009. Holly brought energy, love and devotion to their daily life in Wilton.
Peter recently dealt with the loss of his daughter Carmen following her 22-year battle with cancer. He considered Carmen a true hero in every sense of the word and an inspiration to those who love life and bravely fight for every day that God allows.
In addition to his wife Holly, Peter is survived by his children Peter and A.J. Warren; son-in-law Ritch Robinson; former daughter-in-law Peggy Warren; grandchildren Joshua Allen, Peter Alexander and Christopher Aiden Warren; sister-in-law Christina Bracho; nieces and nephews Juan, Pablo, Monica and Diana Bracho; Giles and Hugh Parker; and Ingrid and Kirby Warren.
Services are planned for Thursday, July 17, from 4 to 8 pm, at the Bouton Funeral Home, 31 West Church Street, Wilton, telephone 203-544-8461. The funeral mass will be at Our Lady of Fatima Church, 229 Danbury Road in Wilton, on Friday, July 18, at 1 pm, with the burial to follow at St Mary’s Cemetery, 110 North Street, Ridgefield, Conn. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the Wilton Historical Society, St Jude Children’s Research Hospital or the National Breast Cancer Fund.
The family invites all who wish to attend to a high tea in memory of Peter Warren, who was a connoisseur of tea as well as fine antique English, Japanese and Chinese teapots. The reception will be after the burial at Wilton Historical Society, 224 Danbury Road, in Wilton.