WPI Community Mourns Loss of Emeritus Trustee

Peter H. Horstmann '55, trustee emeritus and devoted friend of WPI, died August 19. As a WPI trustee from 1984 to 2007, when he was elected to emeritus status, he played key leadership roles in a number of major initiatives at the university. He was also a generous supporter and an active alumni leader.

Barbara and Peter Horstmann

Peter H. Horstmann '55 Passed Away August 19

Peter H. Horstmann '55, trustee emeritus and devoted friend of WPI, died August 19, 2009. A public memorial service will be held at noon on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009, in the WPI Campus Center, with a reception to follow.

A WPI trustee from 1984 to 2007, when he was elected to emeritus status, Pete Horstmann served as vice chair of the board, along with Ronald Zarrella '71, from 1995 to 2000. Over the years, he played key leadership roles in a number of major initiatives at the university as a member of the board's Executive, Academic Planning and Student Affairs, Development, and Physical Facilities committees. He continued his active involvement in WPI developments as an emeritus trustee.

A generous supporter of WPI, Horstmann in 1990 became a member of the Presidential Founders, which recognizes supporters whose lifetime giving to WPI equals or exceeds the $100,000 founding gift of John Boynton. He was also a charter member of the Alden Society and a lifetime member of the President's Circle, which honors alumni and friends who have committed to supporting WPI at a leadership level.

As a student athlete, Horstmann played varsity football, basketball, and lacrosse. He was co-captain of the 1954 football team, one of only three WPI gridiron teams to complete undefeated, untied seasons. For the rest of his life, WPI athletics remained especially close to his heart. He organized and served as chairman of the WPI Athletic Hall of Fame and was inducted himself in 1986. Most recently, he was instrumental in raising funds to renovate Alumni Field, a major project that included a new artificial turf field, track, press box, and lighting.

"Pete was passionate in his commitment to WPI, especially athletics and student life issues. He and his wife, Barbara, were regulars in the stands at WPI sporting events. We will miss our friend Pete," says President and CEO Dennis D. Berkey.

As a student at WPI, Horstmann was known as a leader who gave all of his talents and energy to any initiative he undertook. He served in student government and was selected to Skull, the senior honorary society. He was elected permanent president of the Class of 1955. After earning his BS in mechanical engineering (he also held an MBA from Western New England College), he joined the Hamilton Standard Division of United Aircraft Corporation (now United Technologies) as a mechanical engineer. From 1956 to 1964 he held engineering positions with Kaman Aircraft Corp. in Connecticut, developing and testing military helicopters.

He served as a captain in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, receiving an honorable discharge in 1969. In 1964 he returned to Worcester as engineering manager of Coppus Engineering, later becoming vice president and part owner of the firm. He left Coppus in 1987 to become CEO and president of Cutler Associates Energy Management Inc., also in Worcester. He later served as president and general manager of Webstone Inc., a division of Goddard Industries Inc. that made and distributed valves. Horstmann completed his career as director of human resources for the city's daily newspaper, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Horstmann was an active and enthusiastic member of the WPI Alumni Association. He was elected secretary of the Hartford Chapter in 1958 and served as vice president and treasurer until his return to Worcester in 1964. He renewed his involvement with the association on his return to Worcester, serving as chairman of the Alumni Fund Board and vice president and president of the association. He was also a longtime chair of the Citations Committee, which each year selects outstanding alumni and friends for recognition with major alumni awards. Horstmann himself was singled out for recognition in 1980, when he received the WPI Herbert F. Taylor Alumni Award for Distinguished Service.

Also active in the greater Worcester community, Horstmann served on the Holden School Committee, the Sterling School Board building committee, and the Wachusett Regional School District Committee. He was a member of the Worcester Rotary Club, director of the Worcester Children's Friend Society, and a trustee of the Worcester Science Center (now the EcoTarium) and Consumers Savings Bank. In addition, he was a member of the Worcester Area Chamber of Commerce, Worcester Young Businessman's Association, American Management Association, Worcester Art Museum, the Society for Advancement of Management, and the Tatnuck Country Club. After his retirement, he was active in the First Church of Sterling, serving on a number of committees.

He was a private pilot who enjoyed flying cross country to visit friends and family. He also enjoyed tennis, was a certified ski instructor, and was a referee for high school and college football games for 50 years as a member of the Central Massachusetts Conference of Football Officials. In his spare time, he started a welding business, Wicked Welding Ltd., and enjoyed traveling with his wife of nearly 55 years, Barbara.

He leaves Barbara, three daughters, and six grandchildren. Memorial contributions may be made to the Peter H. Horstmann and Barbara V.L. Horstmann Scholarship Fund at WPI, care of the Office of Development, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA  01609-2280.

August 21, 2009

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