When one gets on in years, older than just a little old, one truly appreciates those rare friendships, the special bonds which grow stronger over the decades. What a blessing, what a treasure.

I first met Pete Seaver in the fall of 1960 at Bowdoin. He hailed from the industrial town of Leominster, Massachusetts. I came from a white bread suburb in Wilmington, Delaware. He was a championship distance swimmer in high school; I made my name on the golf course. As freshmen in Appleton Hall, we took great delight in raucous water fights between Appleton Hall and Hyde Hall. We both pledged the Zeta Psi fraternity (now the Ladd House); in fact, we often paired up during the pledging period to kneel down at the front door of the fraternity house and recite the Zete prayer (“Come all on high and hear my cry, my prayer to enter Zeta Psi….”). We were considered good obedient pledges so we never had to endure buckets of water being thrown down at us as the more recalcitrant pledges sometimes did.

Pete demonstrated his leadership with his fellow pledges early on. He had worked in a drug store before he came to Bowdoin, so he graciously distributed free condoms (called “safes” back then) to each of us before the first big weekend, just in case. (No one, I daresay, needed them, but we appreciated the sentiment, the token of true brotherhood.)

Pete made his biggest splash at Bowdoin in the swimming pool, where he broke New England records in the 220 and the 440-yard freestyle events. He earned a silver medal at the Eastern Seaboard championships in the 1650 his junior year. Pete loved that his coach Charlie Butt always referred to him by his full name, Peter Seaver, which served both as a term of respect and a form of challenge for Pete to live up to his name.

Although Pete served as President of the Student Council at Bowdoin, he was not above playing a prank when the situation called for it. One time when he was in a car with some fraternity brothers, he threw a moon at a passing car also filled with fraternity brothers. One of the brothers got a friend who was a policeman to deliver a phony summons to Pete.

My pranks were a tad less flamboyant. A fellow Bowdoin golfer and I went to the main quad in the middle of the night, where we tried to drive golf balls from one end of the quad right over the tree-lined path towards Massachusetts Hall. No policemen or deans ever called us to account for that stunt.

After spending two years in the army, Pete launched a superb career at the Upjohn Company, a pharmaceutical manufacturing firm in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he rose to the ranks of Corporate VP of Worldwide Pharmaceutical Marketing. His philosophy: Hire good people, let them know you are supporting them, and help them exceed your and their expectations.

We kept in touch through Christmas cards and Bowdoin reunions after graduation, and then in the early 1990s Pete and his dear wife Libby experienced an unthinkable tragedy. Their son Eddie was killed in a ski accident in Breckinridge, Colorado, during the winter after his graduation from Butler University in Indiana. I still recall the deep ache I felt for them when I heard the news. I can’t imagine the pain they felt and still feel. They have stayed in touch with many of Eddie’s friends over all these years.

We’ve continued to enjoy each other’s company at reunions and, in recent years, during our time in Florida, where Pete and Libby have a second home. Pete and I always got together when he came to campus for Alumni Council Meetings. I kept him abreast of what was happening at Bowdoin, during the ten years that I served as Assistant Secretary on the Board of Trustees. He seems to enjoy reading these columns, when I can remember to send them to him. In fact, he shares some of them with his daughter Kerry. He says today of Kerry: “She makes Kalamazoo a much more caring place with all she does just being Kerry.”

He also shares some of my columns with Conor Williams, a young man originally from Kalamazoo who Pete helped steer to Bowdoin and continues to mentor. Conor is currently a Fellow at The Century Foundation, where he writes about education, immigration, early education, school choice, and the work-life balance for American families. Pete shared an email he got from Conor which said, “I think of something you said to me years ago about the power of ebullience. Your enthusiasm is such a good model for me.”

The term “ebullience” is just right for my friend Pete. He’s always looked on the bright side, always grabbed life with a big hug and a devilish twinkle in his eyes, always, in his words, “gone big.” I love his positive attitude along with his willingness to share his fears and vulnerabilities, angers (he’s horrified by Trump as much as I am) and anxieties. I also love, truth be told, that he appreciates my stories.

Pete always sends the message, “Aren’t we lucky to be alive? Isn’t life great?” And he’s right on both counts. A big part of why I’m lucky to be alive is having a friend like Pete. As age has taken its toll and shrunk our inhibitions, we’ve even got into the habit of signing our emails, “Love, Pete” or “Love, David,” probably not typical for men of our vintage. I’m so glad to call him my friend, to go through life with another old Polar Bear at my side.

David Treadwell, a Brunswick writer, welcomes commentary and suggestions for future “Just a Little Old” columns. [email protected]

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