Peter was born on October 25, 1932, in Washington DC, to Conrad Louis and Helen Augusta (Olson) Wirth of Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN.
On November 20, 1956, at All Saints Episcopal Church in Chevy Chase, MD, Peter married a lovely Scottish lass, the former Christina Brown McDonald. She preceded him in death on December 19, 2019. Together they raised a daughter, Dana (Doug) Wirth Sparks of South Bend, IN; and a son, Andrew (Kristin) Wirth of San Juan Capistrano, CA. They had six grandchildren and a great-grandson born just days before Peter’s death.
Peter completed two bachelor’s degrees (Civil Engineering/Computer Science) and proudly served in the United States Air Force as a fighter pilot, flying the F-4 Phantom for 2 ½ tours during the Vietnam War, earning two distinguished flying crosses. He and Christina traveled with their children while stationed in Germany (Wiesbaden, Hahn, Ramstein) for eight years; Langley AFB in Newport News, VA, twice; MacDill AFB in Tampa, FL; and Holloman AFB, Alamogordo, NM. He reminisced recently about the many family camping trips throughout Europe while stationed in Germany.
Peter retired in 1976 after 21 years in the Air Force. He went to work for Eastern Airlines in Boston, MA, and NYC, then later the J. Paul Getty Foundation in Williamstown, MA. He was a math and computer whiz, a problem solver and curious about the world. Peter loved playing golf and he loved music, everything from classical to Johnny Cash. Most recently he received great enjoyment trekking on his recumbent electric tricycle, becoming a familiar figure around the Notre Dame campus and beyond.
In mid-September Peter, his children, daughter-in-law, and a grandson were joined in Blairgowrie, Scotland, by Christina’s sister Isobel McDonald Furneaux from Knutsford, England, and several special Scottish relatives to finally bury Christina’s ashes. Her cousin James played his bagpipes for her. The COVID-19 pandemic had prevented previous attempts to travel across The Pond. It was a final and herculean mission for Peter, as he battled the extensive cancer pain throughout his body to make the trip. He was so strong, devoted, and determined to make the journey that brought Christina home.
In addition to his wife of 63 years, Peter was preceded in death by his parents and brother.
A memorial service to celebrate the lives of both Christina and Peter was held for their friends at Holy Cross Village, on December 23, 2021.
Note from daughter Dana: Peter’s grandson “is a Navy pilot (sorry) and received his wings in May. The last year of my dad’s life was filled with joy as he spent a great deal of time talking with him … sharing amazing stories. Graham always hoped his Grandad would pin those wings on … but asked me to do the honor in memory of my dad.”
In lieu of flowers please consider donating to:
National League of POW/MIA Families https://www.pow-miafamilies.org or
Heart to Heart Hospice https://hearttohearthospice.com.
Published in South Bend Tribune