Peter Cangelosi is one of the most positive people I have met. I met him on The Strand, where he was soaking up sunshine and good music by local musician Brittany Doyle. Like smooth wine with a good meal, Peter’s distinct Texas accent was matched by his rich history and life that he shared with Humans of Galveston. Here is what he had to say:
Q: Tell me about your life, Peter.
Peter: I was born and raised in Stafford, Texas. My family arrived in Stafford in 1915. My grandpa owned a general store and the cotton gin. I went to Dulles High School and graduated in 1969. My class was the first integrated class in Fort Bend Independent School District. I went into the military in 1970, served in the Texas Air National Guard along with local guys around here like Paulie Gaido. We all served in the 147th Fighter Group. I was the NCOC (non-commissioned officer in charge) of the dental area; Paulie was in serology; he drew blood. I got out of the service in ’76.
Q: What kind of work do you do?
Peter: I’m an environmental consultant and environmental activist. I go out and stomp out environmental bon fires— with one leg. (laughs)
Q: How did you lose your leg?
Peter: It’s called peripheral arterial disease. I lost it in January 2017.
Q: Who has been the biggest influence on your life?
Peter: Probably my father, Pete Cangelosi. He was a civil leader, he helped incorporate the city of Stafford, and he was president of the water district, president of the East Fort Bend County Chamber of Commerce. He was very civic minded. He was also an entrepreneur and had many various businesses in his lifetime.
Q: What did you learn from him?
Peter: You ever heard of that book called ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad?’ Well, I had a rich dad. So, it gave me the mindset of ‘anything and everything is possible.’ So really and truly, I’m an optimist to the bone. He taught me that you had to get up and give back. You have to be a generous person in life. He taught me that wealthy people should share their wealth and also take care of the community. Because we are a family with many blessings and therefore we should share our blessings. That was my father’s motto.
Q: What is the biggest hurdle that you have had to overcome? Was it your leg?
Peter: Oh no. It was probably the death of my wife in July 2017. Her name was Dannee McShain Cangelosi. My wife was the very first Life Flight nurse in the city of Houston. She worked directly under Dr. (James) “Red” Duke. She died from opioid poisoning. So, I’m a victim of the opioid epidemic. I lost my wife at (age) 64.
Q: What brought you through it? How did you get past the tragedy?
Peter: She and I were married at Ashton Villa on Broadway 18 years ago. And our dream was for her to reach retirement age, and then we were going to retire on the Island. And so, in January of ’18 I moved down to the Island to fulfill our joint dream. And I’ve been here ever since.
Q: What is it about Galveston that drew you here?
Peter: I love everything about Galveston. I love the history, I love the culture, I love the people and I love to people watch. I love the music scene, I love the ‘Pura Vida’ lifestyle – the pure life. It’s a Costa Rican term.
Q: So you’re not going anywhere?
Peter: I’m not going nowhere, brother. I plan to stay here forever. I may buy a ranch in Belize, but that’ll be about as far as I’ll go.
Q: Do you have any closing thoughts?
Peter: My closing thoughts are tomorrow is Sunday Fun Day, and today is Saturday Fun Day, and every day is Fun Day in Galveston, Texas.