Hilton Head Island resident celebrates 100th birthday with his fellow Tigers

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comJuly 19, 2013 

Pete Keenan of the TidePointe community on Hilton Head Island celebrates his 100th birthday with the Princeton Club of Hilton Head Island.



    Email David Lauderdale at dlauderdale@islandpacket.com.

Thanks to Lisa Drakeman of Spanish Wells for sharing the story of a fellow member of the revitalized Princeton Club of Hilton Head.

"A Tiger Tale"

By Lisa Drakeman

Pete Keenan of the TidePointe community on Hilton Head Island turned 100 in style and celebrated with six different parties, including one with fellow Tigers from the Princeton Club of Hilton Head.

This is not surprising, considering that he is a man committed to multiple experiences throughout his life.

Not content with one Princeton degree, Pete was one of a minuscule number who entered Princeton's Graduate School after getting his undergraduate degree in 1935. He obtained a master's degree in mechanical engineering in 1936, becoming a Princeton double dipper.

He continued this trend by having two illustrious careers, where he put his Princeton education to important uses.

In fact, if engineering is defined as the "application of scientific and mathematical principles to practical ends," then Pete Keenan should have his own page in the dictionary.

His first career at Union Carbide started in Charleston, W.Va., and took him around the world as a global executive in the far-flung and vitally important petroleum industry.

Amid all his other efforts there, he spotted the potential of a new area where technology was finding practical ends -- the nascent field of computers, where he pioneered the use of mainframes for business applications.

He was so convinced of the potential of computers that he persuaded the accounting department, which initially had the one and only computer, to let him use it after hours. This would lay the foundation for him to begin his second career following his retirement as a senior executive after 36 years of service to Union Carbide.

While most people would have simply relaxed on Hilton Head's beautiful beaches, Pete reinvented himself, switching from Fortune 500 executive to computer entrepreneur. He launched a software company serving the local business community. After teaching himself programming, he worked hand-in-hand with IBM for years to bring the power of computing to South Carolina businesses.

He didn't stop there. He helped his fellow residents of Hilton Head enter the computer age when he co-founded the Hilton Head Island Computer Club in 1989. The organization flourishes today, with his help as life-member and resident expert.

Pete's latest project involves developing an algorithm to solve Sudoku puzzles, now in its seventh iteration.

Everywhere else in the world, people with computer questions invariably seek out the youngest person in the room. Hilton Head Islanders know enough to look to the other end of the age spectrum.

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