Roland “Bud” Pater’s hearing may not be tiptop, but his smile and quick wit have remained intact.
Pater turns 100-years-old on Oct. 11. A party was held at Malicki’s Piggly Wiggly to celebrate the milestone. He received a proclamation from Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave, who made today Roland “Bud” Pater day and Sen. Van Wanggaard(R-Racine) and Rep. Tom Weatherston (R-Caledonia) recognized this week as Pater’s birthday week.
But even more impressive than turning 100 years old is what he did in his lifetime.
“How did I get to be 100-years-old? By refusing to die everyday, that’s how,” Pater said with a smile.
Graduating from Washington Park High School in 1932, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1939. This was the predecessor to the U.S. Airforce. Pater fought with the 36th Fighter Group as a technician and he was part of two major offensive efforts against the Germans, the Battle of the Bulge and the landing on Omaha Beach, during WW II. Pater’s son-in-law KJ, who did not want us to use his last name, said Pater wanted to be a pilot, but he was unable to because he didn’t meet their health criteria.
“He loved airplanes and even though he didn’t fly them, he built model airplanes,” KJ said. “He has a clear mind and he has always been good at engineering things.”
Once home, Pater married his wife Evelyn in 1949 and they had two daughters. He also has four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He worked a series of jobs until he started the Pater Harley-Davidson Sales in 1962. John Davidson, the grandson of one of the founders of the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Co., would often invite him to Milwaukee to take a look at their model concepts while they were being engineered to “kick around ideas,” KJ said.
“They called me ‘Bud’ because they really didn’t know my real name,” he said.
Karen, who didn’t want her last name used), is a friend of the family. She drives Pater to the veterans’ cafe every week at Maliki’s Piggly Wiggly.
“My brother raced motorcycles and Bud sponsored him, so he’s like a dad to me. So I like to help him out,” she said. “He schmoozes with the suits just as he does with the guys with grease under their fingernails.”
As the morning went on at the Veterans’ Cafe, a man played the accordion in the corner. The group sang happy birthday to Pater as his friends came up to him and shook his hand.
Not turning 100 until Sunday, Pater told Mayor John Dickert: “It’s mighty nice that the Green Bay Packers are playing for me on Sunday.”
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