Peter Nicholas (businessman)

Peter Michael Nicholas (May 16, 1941 – May 14, 2022) was an American businessman and philanthropist. He co-founded medical device firm Boston Scientific with partner John Abele in 1979.

Peter Nicholas
Peter Michael Nicholas

(1941-05-16)May 16, 1941[1]
DiedMay 14, 2022(2022-05-14) (aged 80)
Alma materDuke University (BA)
University of Pennsylvania (MBA)
Known forCo-founder of Boston Scientific
Virginia "Ginny" Lilly
(m. 1964)

Early lifeEdit

Nicholas was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on May 16, 1941. He was the second of four children of Nicholas Nicholas and Vrysula (Coucouvitis), both of whom immigrated to the United States from Greece.[2][3] His father was a United States Navy career officer and served during World War II. Nicholas attended St. Paul's School in his home state, where he was a letterman in baseball, football, and squash. Although he was accepted into the United States Naval Academy, he did not pass an entrance physical examination due to his eyesight.[2] He then received a late admission into Duke University, graduating in 1964.[2][4] After serving in the U.S. Navy as a communications officer on the USS Lookout and member of the special operations warfare group for two years,[2][5] he undertook postgraduate studies at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, obtaining a Master of Business Administration in 1968.[2]


Nicholas first worked for Eli Lilly and Company in sales, marketing, and management for a decade from 1968 to 1978. He subsequently acted as general manager of the Millipore Corporation's medical products division.[2][5]

Nicholas first met scientist John Abele at a Christmas party in Concord in 1979. The latter was president of Meditech at the time.[2] They borrowed $800,000 to start Boston Scientific, a manufacturer of medical devices. He helped grow the company through a series of astute acquisitions.[6] Nicholas was chief executive officer of the company until 1999, when he became chairman. He continued in that role until his retirement in 2016.[3]

Nicholas was chairman emeritus of the Duke board of trustees.[2] He was ranked #78 by Forbes magazine's 2005 list of "The 400 Richest Americans", with an estimated worth of $4 billion,[7] before finishing #189 the following year.[8] Nicholas was one of seven Greek Americans to feature on the aforementioned list.[9]

The Nicholas family gave $20 million to Duke University in 1996 for the School of the Environment, which subsequently renamed the school in his honor. In 2000, Nicholas was a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.[10] Eight years later, Nicholas and his wife pledged a further $72 million to Duke; $70 million to the Nicholas School of the Environment, and $2 million to Perkins Library.[11] He served on the board of advisors of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, which he established.[5]

Personal lifeEdit

Nicholas married Virginia (Ginny) Lilly, a descendant of Eli Lilly, in 1964, shortly after they both graduated from Duke University.[2] They met while studying at the institution,[3] and remained married until his death. Together, they had three children: Peter Jr., J.K., and Katherine.[2][4] All three graduated from Duke, as did one of their granddaughters.[4]

Nicholas died on May 14, 2022, at his home in Boca Grande, Florida, aged 80. He had been diagnosed with cancer.[2][3]



  1. ^ "The World's Working Rich". Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Marquard, Bryan (May 15, 2022). "Peter Nicholas, cofounder of Boston Scientific, dies at 80". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on May 16, 2022. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d Goldberg, Carey (May 16, 2022). "Peter Nicholas, Co-Founder of Boston Scientific, Dies at 80". Bloomberg News. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d "Duke Flags Lowered: Former Trustee Chair Peter M. Nicholas Dies at Age 80". Duke University. May 16, 2022. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d "Pete Nicholas, WG'68 – 2019 Joseph Wharton Award for Lifetime Achievement". Wharton Club of New York. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  6. ^ Tully, Shawn (October 5, 2006). "Boston Scientific paid too high a price for Guidant - October 16, 2006". Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  7. ^ "Moving up in the world". Associated Press. September 23, 2005. Archived from the original on May 17, 2022. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  8. ^ "#189 Peter M Nicholas - Net Worth: $1.9 billion". Forbes. September 21, 2006. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  9. ^ Couloumbis, Theodore A.; Kariotis, Theodore C.; Bellou, Fotini, eds. (2003). Greece in the Twentieth Century. Psychology Press. p. 299. ISBN 978-0-7146-5407-2.
  10. ^ "Ellis Island Medals of Honor Archive | Peter M. Nicholas | 2000". Ellis Island Honors Society. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  11. ^ Nicholases' $72 Million Gift Closes Campaign At Record $2.36 Billion Archived August 2, 2012, at Duke University Office of News and Communications, January 8, 2004. Retrieved June 6, 2008.
  12. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  13. ^ Congressional Record. Vol. 147 (Bound ed.). United States Government Publishing Office. January 30, 2001. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  14. ^ "Boston Scientific Co-Founders John Abele and Pete Nicholas Honored with AdvaMed Lifetime Achievement Award". AdvaMed. Archived from the original on June 5, 2021. Retrieved September 12, 2020.

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