Peter Michael Wimsatt
Peter (Pete) Wimsatt, age 85, of Eden Prairie, MN died peacefully at 12:30 am on Saturday, August 4, 2018. He is survived by his children Dan Wimsatt (Kathy Davidson), Steve Wimsatt (Sandy Halvorsen), and Carol Wimsatt; his daughter-in-law Karen Wimsatt and five grandchildren – Nicole, Michael, Brooke, Katie and Eric. He was preceded in death by his wife of 33 years Gretchen (Hardenbergh), his oldest son Pete Jr, his older brothers William and Joseph Wimsatt, his sister Bootsie Bray Murphy and his first wife Sally.
Pete was born on August 15th, 1932 in Lyons Kansas to William and Bessie (Maggard) Wimsatt, the fourth of five children, and grew up in Kansas City and various towns in western Kansas. In 1951 he enlisted in the US Navy and served at Patuxent River Naval Air station during the Korean War. After the war, he went to Kansas State University on the GI bill and graduated in 1957. He had a long and successful career beginning with a job at the General Motors Assembly plant in Kansas City where at one point he was named the youngest manager in the history of GM. He went on to lead production control on non-nuclear components for atomic weapon systems at the Bendix Kansas City plant before moving to Tonka Corporation in Mound Minnesota where he rose to CEO and Chairman of the Board. During this time he was one of the first American executives to visit the Far East and source products for the U.S. market from China. He continued as an expert on Asian and Chinese production throughout his career and averaged 2-3 trips per year to Asia for over 40 years. After Tonka Corporation, Pete held senior executive roles in a number of other toy companies including Schaper and Ertl, and ran a small consulting firm serving US and Asian clients.
Pete loved boating, especially on Lake Minnetonka just outside of Minneapolis, and although he never quite mastered the game of golf he enjoyed the camaraderie of the game and getting out on the course. He spent nearly 30 years in Dubuque Iowa and with Gretchen had an active social life featuring an annual ‘Twelfth Night” event that attracted hundreds of friends even in frequently sub-zero weather. Pete had a corny joke for any occasion and for many years was the most reliable source of Glen Livet 12 year old scotch in all of Iowa. Later he found a weekly Euchre game. At his core Pete loved being with friends and family and enjoying good food, good drink and good company.
To honor Pete’s life, there will be two memorial events, one at 5:30 pm on August 9th at Dubuque Country Club in Dubuque Iowa, and one at 4pm on August 11th at the David Lee Funeral Home in Wayzata MN. Memorials may be directed to the Dubuque Symphony in Pete’s memory.