Seniority / Pete Wolgast, Y chairman takes a long view
Updated 8:21 am, Saturday, June 25, 2011
Editor's note: This is one in an occasional series of chats with local seniors about their lives, youthful aspirations, sources of pride and regret, plus a bit of wisdom to share with younger folks.
Q: Do you live in Westport?
A: Yes, 43 years. We moved to Westport in 1968.
Q: Are you married?
A: Yes -- to Janet for 55 years.
A: Two sons and two daughters. Both sons live in Westport.
A: Five grandsons and one granddaughter. Four grandsons live in Westport.
Q: Are you retired?
A: Yes, though I am almost as active as when I worked for a living.
Q: What did you do when you worked full-time?
A: After graduation in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan, I worked at Delhi-Taylor's oil refinery in Corpus Christi. Most of my working life was spent in executive and board positions in the oil industry -- at home and overseas. I worked at oil company facilities in Tokyo, Iraq, Abu Dhabi and Qatar, Bahrain, London, Washington, New York. In 1974 in Bahrain, I became president of a new company Exxon set up for direct representation with Middle East governments and their energy companies.
Q: What did you want to be when you grew up?
A: A professional golfer playing on the PGA tour.
Q: What was a significant memory or defining moment in your childhood?
A: My childhood was spent in Petoskey on Little Traverse Bay on the northern shores of Lake Michigan. My father was a history teacher, football and basketball coach and athletic director. I had a confidence-building experience in school with success both academically and in several sports.
Q: What are your main hobbies and interests?
A: First and foremost, my family. I also follow current events by reading five newspapers a day. Through TV, when time permits, I also keep up with political and economic developments. I also am and have been involved in many public service and nonprofit groups.
Q: Could you name some?
A: I served on the Representative Town Meeting for several years. I was chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee and the Finance Committee. I was president of the Westport Historical Society for two years. In the mid-90s, I was warden of Christ & Holy Trinity Church. I also served on the Town Charter Revision Commission. I am completing my fourth year as chairman of the Westport YMCA Board, trying to raise $24 million for the new Y building.
Q: What music do you listen to and what is your favorite piece?
A: I love the Beethoven symphonies, particularly the Ninth. I also love to listen to the Michigan Marching Band play The Victors.
Q: Who do you think was the best President of the United States and why?
A: Abraham Lincoln. He faced daunting problems in winning the Civil War and holding our country together.
Q: If you could tell the President of the United States one thing now, what would it be?
A: Bring us more economic growth so we will have more jobs. Too many people are out of work, losing their homes and suffering.
Q: Of what achievements are you most proud?
A: Assisting on the Christ & Holy Trinity team that brought the Rev. John Branson and his family to Westport. Also, working to bring a new YMCA to Westport.
Q: What, if anything, are you deeply concerned about?
A: Our involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now, Libya. Our economy also troubles me.
Q: How so?
A: We are spending more, borrowing more, relying on China more...and that our reps in Washington do not seem to have ability to work together to bring a rational solution to our problems.
Q: Best piece of advice for the younger generation?
A: Find a vocation you love; pursue it with a passion. Find a spouse that you love deeply. ... Be a good family member. Be thankful that are an American. Do everything you can to make our country a better place. ... Be an optimist.
Q: What gives you your greatest joy?
A: Time spent with family.
Q: Do you have any regrets in life?
A: Not really. I have been very blessed.
Q: What are you looking forward to?
A: God willing, many more years with Janet with good health enjoying life in Westport.