NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Pete was born in New Rochelle, NY to Edwin and Eleanor Hilser, the twelfth of their fourteen children. Throughout his life, his siblings, particularly his four brothers, remained his closest confidantes, supporters and golfing buddies. Tales of their childhood antics were legendary, causing one nephew to note, “It is a wonder they all lived to adulthood.”
After graduating from Blessed Sacrament High School, a place where he cemented his life-long loves of learning and football, he enlisted in the US Navy and served as a Seabee in the US and Japan. He was proud of his military service as a patriot and grateful for the opportunities serving afforded him. There he learned to be an electrician, skills he honed until he launched his own company, Hilser Electric, which he ran for over 20 years. Its motto “Quality. Integrity. Trust,” summarized not only his professional life, but also the values he lived out in every aspect of his life.
He was married for 48 years to Patricia Sullivan Hilser, which they often joked meant 46 years of happy marriage, but anyone who witnessed his grief after her passing in 2015 knew that it meant a lifetime of true partnership, happy memories and a deep and abiding love. He was forever grateful to his sister Nancy for introducing him to her best friend, “the cutest girl he had ever seen.”
Pete was a devoted father to Suzanne and Sally, managing to be a big presence even as he was growing his business and remaining active in the community. He helped with science projects, scheduled meetings around sports and dance recitals, and encouraged them in their interests and passions. He was their biggest cheerleader and most active booster, and they still can’t believe how lucky they were to have the parents they did.
He is also survived by his beloved granddaughter Dalton Wiles with whom he enjoyed “midnight swims,” chipping golf balls off the back porch, and the Care Bears, and his devoted son-in-law, Brannon Wiles, who wishes he had been able to incorporate more of the lessons of Pete’s gentle coaching into his own golf game.
In addition to those already listed, he is survived by his brothers Skip and Richie, his sisters Ruth, Charlotte, Carol, Cathy, and Nancy, in laws - including his wife’s sister, Ellen, who was more like his own little sister - and more nieces, nephews and friends than would be possible to list. The happy life he built centered around family gatherings, vacations with family and friends, great times at both Red Hook Golf Club and Morehead City Country Club, and many gatherings and parties thrown by him and Pat, some of which have taken on legendary status.
In his final days, he celebrated the life he was privileged to live, reached out in love and kindness to friends and family, and looked forward to being reunited with those he had loved and lost, most especially his wife. In dying, as he had in living, he provided a model of love and grace.
His family would like to thank the doctors, nurses and staff at Carteret Health, and Hospice of Carteret County for their compassionate care and kindness, especially Dr. David Jaworski and Robin Lingle
A celebration of his life will be held at 11am on November 12th, 2017 at the Episcopal Church of the Messiah Rhinebeck, NY. In lieu of flowers, his family asks that friends consider gifts to the Carteret Healthcare Foundation, benefitting both the hospital and hospice.