Editor: Miriam Raub Vivian
|Spring Quarter 2006||
California State University, Bakersfield
Volume 14, No. 3
Alumni Focus: Peter J. Wonderly
by Miriam Raub Vivian
I shall be at Starbuck's at 3:00 and shall await your arrival until 3:35. To identify myself, I shall be reading a copy of U.S. Grant's memoirs. Your code phrase will be, "Is the weather here always this nice?" I shall reply, "It looked like rain earlier, but now it looks fine!" If enemy agents observe you entering the cafe, abort mission and warn me via cellular calling device, number 555-1234. Under the pretense of an interview, I will slip you a check, in exchange for the top secret, "eyes-only" P.A.T. documents. The cost will be worth it, particularly if we can use the information to get the Iranians to back down. Otherwise, Litzinger [Professor Emeritus of Asian History] and his Strike Team Alpha will have to take out their nuclear facility the hard way. Either way, democracy and capitalism prevail. Immediately after reading this e-mail, delete it, destroy your hard drive, and heave it out the window at itinerant protesters—if any.
Yours in freedom,
The above email, a prelude to my meeting to interview him for this newsletter piece, is pure Peter Wonderly (BA '94), CSUB alumnus and Phi Alpha Theta benefactor—and the guy my children refer to as "Mulder" (from The X-Files). Prof. Litzinger has named him "Peter Wonderful." Good natured and generous, Peter enjoys life and sharing what he has with others. He and his wife, Patty, an elementary school teacher, own two Airedales, collect Southwestern art, and support local folk and jazz bands, routinely hosting home concerts for groups such as the Celtic band Whiskey Galore. Peter stays busy with several professions: he teaches social studies at the Auburn Community School (since 1995); he enrolls educators in Tax Sheltered Annuities; and he provides sound systems (and is often the DJ) for a variety of events, including the Scottish games. (In his local column several years ago, Herb Benham characterized Peter's role in local events this way: "If Vin Scully is the voice of the Dodgers and Chick Hearn the Lakers, then it's not a stretch to say that Peter Wonderly is the voice of running and cycling events in Bakersfield.")
Peter's generosity and work ethic come from his parents and his early independence. Working by age fifteen, Peter was living on his own at sixteen. He put himself through college—the first in his family—working two jobs. After completing the credential program and teaching for several years, he began taking graduate courses in our Masters degree program, where his interests are chiefly in American history: military history, the Civil War, and General Grant. Deeply involved at CrossRoads Christian Fellowship, Peter and Patty have a strong commitment to serve, giving to help others less fortunate. They participated, for example, through their church in the recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina, helping in the donation and delivery of trailers for homeless families in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Fortunately for the CSUB history department, Peter has taken us under his generous wing: first by serving on the board of Phi Alpha Theta (as he continues to do); by helping back in the pioneer days of the PAT banquet, when we were putting the entire meal together by ourselves; and then by donating a generous annual gift to fund paper awards for our local PAT chapter. Initially an anonymous gift, several years ago Peter named it The J.R. Wonderly Memorial Prize to honor his father. January 2007 will mark the thirteenth year for this event.
It's thus appropriate that Phi Alpha Theta—and the history department—recognize this very special, accomplished, and generous alumnus. Peter, your annual gift inspires and rewards excellence in research and writing among our very best students and is undeniably an indispensable part of our efforts to sustain and strengthen the history program at CSUB. You have our deepest thanks and appreciation.
In this issue
Winter 2007 Schedule