Hinsdale Central Foundation, Partnership in Lifelong Learning

Peter Scott Bridges

Membership level: Hall of Fame

Peter Scott Bridges

Inductee Year 2006
Peter Scott Bridges
Peter Bridges was born in New Orleans in 1932, the son of Charles Scott Bridges and Shirley Devlin Bridges. Peter grew up in Illinois, and in 1949 graduated from Hinsdale Township High School. His sisters, Shirley Bartow Bridges Pizzo and Mary Bridges Wiggenhorn, are also HTHS graduates. Peter received a B.A. from Dartmouth College in 1953, and in 1955 an M.A. and the Certificate of the Russian Institute from Columbia University, where he held a Ford Foundation graduate scholarship. In 1955 he enlisted in the U.S. Army, and served in an engineer battalion in France. In 1957 Peter was commissioned as a career U.S. Foreign Service officer. He served in three Federal agencies in Washington--State Department, Treasury Department, and U.S. Arms Control & Disarmament Agency--and overseas in our embassies at Panama, Moscow, Prague, Rome, and Mogadishu. As American ambassador to Somalia in 1984-86, he supervised the largest U.S. civilian and military aid program in Sub-Sahara Africa, and was highly praised by President Reagan on retiring from the government in 1986. Bridges was the executive director of the Una Chapman Cox Foundation in Washington in 1987-88; the international-affairs manager of Shell Oil Company in Houston, 1988-93; and the resident representative in the Czech Republic of the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development, 1993-94. In recent years Peter Bridges has lectured across the United States, in Europe, and on cruise ships. He has published over fifty articles and essays on history, diplomacy, and travel, and two books. Safirka: An American Envoy (Kent State University Press, 2000), describes his experiences in Somalia. Pen of Fire: John Moncure Daniel (Kent State, 2002), is the biography of an American diplomat and Confederate editor. In 1955 Peter married Mary Jane Lee, a Chicagoan who graduated from Northwestern University and received a master's degree from the Graduate School of Business of Columbia University, where she was the first woman Standard & Poor Fellow. Mary Jane was president of Academy Development, Inc. when the Bridges lived in Houston. For some years she has been a U.S. income-tax consultant, with a client base primarily in Italy. The Bridges divide their time between Crested Butte, Colorado; Arlington, Virginia; and Rome. They have four children, and are expecting their sixth grandchild in December. Peter is a member of Alpha Delta Phi, the American Foreign Service Association, and the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia. In politics he is a Democrat.
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