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2013 Badger of the Year WAA HOI Chapter

Peter Donis

Peter Donis was born in Madison, WI on May 30, 1924 and he attended Madison West High School.  Upon graduation from the University of Wisconsin in 1948, he entered Caterpillar's college graduate training program.  During his Caterpillar career, Peter held various management positions in Caterpillar, each with increasing responsibility.  His work stationed him in Scotland, Joliet, and Peoria, IL.  He was elected a Director of Caterpillar, Inc. in 1981 and subsequently became the President of Caterpillar in 1985.  He retired in 1989 after 41 years of dedicated service. Peter was married to Mildred Niesen for 56 years before her passing.  Together they have three children who all live in Arizona.

Upon getting to know Peter, we found him to be incredibly humble.  His record of success in business is unsurpassed.  After retiring as President of Caterpillar, they ended up replacing him with FIVE Group Presidents.  (Apparently, he was able to do the work of five persons!)  He is also a huge philanthropist, supporting many, many causes and charities.  In addition, Peter is a regular contributor to the UW Foundation and is a member of the Bascom Hill Society.

Despite being 89 years young, Peter is still an avid tennis player and golfer, but he admits he keeps "losing" playing partners! In Peter's remarks to the WAA Heart of Illinois Chapter at Founders Day, he noted, "In my 41 years at Caterpillar, your success in business depends on how well you do your job, not on where you went to school."  His point being, Wisconsin gave him a great background to get started from, but it's the application of your skills that will ultimately determine your success.  The Wisconsin Alumni Association Heart of Illinois Chapter proudly awards our 2013 Badger of Year award to Peter Donis '48.