Big Brother 'Pete' sought after 31 years
Aaron Brundage last saw his Big Brother 31 years ago.
The former Wilkinsburg resident hopes to join a nationwide effort by Big Brothers Big Sisters to reunite former “Bigs” and “Littles” in an effort to re-engage those previously involved with the organization.
The records on Brundage's Big Brother were destroyed after 10 years, in accordance with the organization's policy then. Brundage remembers only that “Pete” lived in Shadyside and eventually relocated to his hometown of Salem, Ohio.
Officials with the nonprofit, which pairs needy children with volunteer mentors, concede it could be a difficult search.
“I think it's worth throwing it up in the air and seeing what catches it,” said Stephanie Adamczyk, executive operations manager at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh.
Agency officials are contacting news outlets in Salem, where they think Pete probably lives, and they have contacted the Big Brothers Big Sisters affiliate there.
Brundage, now a Big Brother himself in Albuquerque, N.M., was 7 years old and living in Wilkinsburg with his single mother, who thought he needed “a consistent male role model,” when the agency paired him with Pete.
“I don't know why I remember Aaron and his mom,” said Linda Skosnik, director of community-based programming for the agency in Pittsburgh, who paired the two. “She was a strong woman who wanted the best for her son, and he was a very bright little boy.”
The match lasted a year, ending when Pete moved back to Salem.
For some reason, it's lodged in Brundage's memory. He remembers visiting Pete's family in Salem and that Pete's father collected vintage cars — Model Ts and the like. He recalls the two biking together on the newly constructed East Busway before it opened and playing Frisbee in the park.
“The fact that somebody reached down and took an interest,” said Brundage, 39, now a successful engineer. “I loved to ride bikes, go to the park. He took deliberate time to do things with me.”
Brundage did not get another Big Brother after Pete, who he estimates would be in his 60s today.
“After Pete, it filled a void that I had,” he said. “It was enough. ... I never forgot it.”
A 1991 graduate of Allderdice High School, Brundage graduated with honors from Penn State University with bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering, in 1995 and 1996. He earned his doctorate in mechanical engineering from Purdue University and became an engineer with Sandia National Laboratories.
His search comes as Big Brothers Big Sisters actively promotes the value of the positive influence a “Big” has on a “Little,” said Jan S. Glick, CEO of the Pittsburgh affiliate, which serves about 1,200 children annually in Allegheny, Greene and Washington counties.
“It's an example of how what we do locally works,” Glick said.
Craig Smith is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.