I first met Pete Gould 56 years ago on a school bus. It was 1956, and I was a new Ravenswood High School freshman, whose family had just arrived from Spokane, Washington.
I first met Pete Gould 56 years ago on a school bus. It was 1956, and I was a new Ravenswood High School freshman, whose family had just arrived from Spokane, Washington. We lived at the “Y” in Sandyville that first year while our house on Sycamore Street was being built. I was among the first to board Bus #20 each morning, and Pete, who lived with his grandfather one-half mile up the road, was next. I recall that Pete’s first words to me were, “you’re one of those new Kaiser people, aren’t you? I answered, “yes,” and our relationship began.
At the time, you either played sports under Coach Jim Spano, or you were in the band under Jim Porter. Both teachers--and their programs--were powerhouses in the day. Pete excelled in sports, helping the Red Devils win State football championships in 1957 and 1959, and compiling a memorable16-1 basketball record in 1959. I played trombone for Jim Porter.
In my Junior year, Pete and fellow classmate Clark Ritchie approached me saying, “Brownlee, the girls are taking over our class. You are going to be our Junior Class President.” And so it came to pass; such was Pete’s quiet, behind the scenes “leadership.”
After we graduated in 1960, Pete joined the U.S. Air Force and I entered West Virginia University. I didn’t see him again until after my WVU graduation, my marriage to Jeanne Fletcher (Class of ’61) and an unexpected draft notice from the U.S. Army. By then Pete had returned to Ravenswood and was working hard to establish his business. I called to seek his advice about the Air Force as an option to my Army draft notice. Pete took the time to sit down with me and provide an honest, objective and extremely influential view that ultimately led to my rewarding 20-year career as an Air Force officer.
Over the next several decades our paths crossed only occasionally, primarily at our five-year class reunions. As usual, Pete remained behind the scenes, low-key but making things happen, and always greeting me with a firm handshake of genuine warmth and friendship. Then, at our 50th reunion in 2010, he took me by complete surprise by presenting me with a plaque that read “In recognition of 50 years Ravenswood High School Class of 1960.”
I was literally speechless. If anyone deserved such recognition, it was Pete, not me. He had remained a life-long Ravenswood resident, dedicated to his family, his business, his community, and his classmates. I was merely someone who, for a brief four-year period, had the wonderfully good fortune to live in Ravenswood. But because of Pete, and others like him, I am proud to be a Mountaineer, and I will always consider Ravenswood my home. My one regret is that I didn’t have the chance to tell Pete how much I admired this wonderful man, and how much he has influenced my life. May God bless him.
Ravenswood High School
Class of ‘60