Pete Dawkins’ Birthday Celebration at Club Colette

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An ambassador and a general — Mr. and Mrs. Pete Dawkins at Club Colette. All photos by Carrie Bradburn/CAPEHART

Pete Dawkins is a retired Army General, Heisman Trophy winner and Rhodes Scholar, plus he drives a red Ferrari. He’s basically the man all men want to be, and the one all women wanted to be with. That is until Ambassador Mary Ourisman captured his heart at the 2019 Red Cross Ball. Now she is Mrs. Pete Dawkins and the envy of Palm Beach!

Ambassador Dawkins gathered dear friends together to celebrate her husband’s birthday in what seemed like a post-Covid dream on the evening of March 8th at Club Colette. Coincidentally, it was the day the CDC announced that those who had been fully vaccinated could begin gathering indoors with those who are also fully vaccinated providing our pandemic-weary nation a first glimpse of what the new normal may look like in the months ahead.


Three tables of eight outdoors on a beautiful March 2021 evening at Club Colette.
The birthday boy’s place setting.
Wilbur Ross proposes a toast to the honoree.
Pals of Pete’s: Page Lee Hufty and Sharon Bush.
A warm greeting to Hilary Geary Ross.
Stanley Gaines makes a dapper entrance while his wife Gay (in yellow) stops to wish Pete a happy birthday .
Robert and Mary Simses.
Landon Hilliard (right) chats with Hillie Mahoney and Charlie Johnson.
Ann and Charlie Johnson.
The Honorable hostess Mary Dawkins with Bob Merrill and Sandy Thompson.
Bob and Sharon Murray chatting with Hilary Ross.
Susan and Bob Wright wearing his signature Autism Speaks bouttonniere.
Bill Blodgett with his lovely dinner partner Kiwi Hilliard.
Hillie Mahoney and George Stamas.
Britty and John Damgard with the Dawkinses.

For those who may not know Pete Dawkins. He was born on March 8, 1938 in Royal Oak, Michigan, where his father was a dentist who served in the Pacific during World War II. His mother was a college-educated homemaker with personal and career involvement in child development.

At eleven, Pete was successfully treated for polio through a then unconventional treatment of aggressive physical therapy, and began a life-long commitment to weight training and sports.

On the brink of adolescence, he earned a scholarship to Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where he excelled both as an All-League quarterback in football, and Captain of the baseball team.

Although accepted at Yale University, Pete chose to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. To this day, he remains the only cadet to ever serve as Brigade Commander, President of his Class, Captain of the football team and a “Star Man” (one of the top 5%, academically).

Along with the legendary 1944, 1945 and 1946 teams of “Doc” Blanchard and Glenn Davis, Pete’s 1958 Army football team was one of the most storied teams in West Point history.

Undefeated, and ranked third in the nation, West Point’s “lonely end” formation — unveiled that year — is credited by many as having ushered in the open-formation, wide-receiver structure of modern football.

That same year, Pete was recognized as the outstanding college football player in the nation, being selected a consensus All American, and winning both the Heisman and the Maxwell Trophies.

In 1959, after graduating from West Point, Pete began a three year course of study at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. Upon completion of his studies, Pete spent the following 24 years as a career officer in the United States Army.

After finishing Infantry, Parachute and Ranger training, Pete was posted to the 82nd Airborne Division where he commanded a Rifle Company. Following further training — including Vietnamese language school, he went to Vietnam, first as Senior Advisor to the Vietnamese 1st Airborne Battalion, and subsequently, working in the Pacification Program.

Later, Pete taught at the Military Academy, studied for a Ph.D. at Princeton University, worked on the task force charged to adapt the Army to a volunteer status (following the Congressional decision to do away with the military draft) and served as a White House Fellow.

In the final decade of his military career, Pete commanded three different units, and would become a General Officer. His commands included a Battalion in Korea, a Brigade at Fort Ord, followed by assignment as Assistant Division Commander of the 7th Infantry Division. Then, another Brigade command in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), followed by assignment there as the Division Chief of Staff.

His final posting was in the Pentagon as the Army’s Deputy Director of Strategy, Plans and Policy.

Since leaving uniform, Pete has continued his legacy of involvement and leadership entering the world of finance where he joined Lehman Brothers in New York as a Partner, and head of the Public Finance Banking division.

After four years with Lehman Brothers, Pete again felt the tug of public service, running as the Republican candidate from New Jersey for the United States Senate.Although he ultimately fell short in that nationally-covered campaign, it was for a purpose he cares deeply about — service to the nation.

In 1989, he joined the strategy consulting firm of Bain & Company, as head of the U.S. consulting practice. Then, in 1991 he was recruited by Sanford I. Weill, to serve as Chairman and CEO of Primerica Financial Services, Inc.

Pete went on to hold several senior positions at Citigroup.

In 2010, Pete and two partners founded a hedge fund, Flintlock Capital; and subsequently joined Virtu Financial, a prominent, market-leading high frequency trading firm.

In 2017, after 56 years of marriage, Pete’s wife, Judi, contracted a virulent autoimmune disease and, sadly, passed away. In 2019, through the chance suggestion of a West Point Classmate’s wife, Pete met Mary — then former U.S. Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean. Mary had lost her spouse, the late Mandell J. “Mandy” Ourisman, several years before as well. Mary and Pete married in July 2019.

Beyond being a long-time fundraiser for political candidates, Mary has been an active supporter of the RNC and the Republican Governors’ Association. Her passion is supporting the arts, and she has been a Trustee of JFK Center for the Performing Arts, a Board member of the Washington National Opera, and a Member of the Order of Saint John. In addition, she is particularly proud of being an active Emeritus Trustee of the Smithsonian Institution.

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