Professor Peter Wiggins passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on Friday, May 26, 2023. Peter was born in Queens, New York, in 1935 and was the eldest of eight children of Peter and Margaret Wiggins. He was a diehard Brooklyn Dodger fan and an ardent soccer player. He attended Grover Cleveland HS, where he played varsity soccer and baseball. He was selected and recognized as the best goalkeeper in New York City his freshman and sophomore years. After high school, he attended and was graduated from the State University of New York Maritime College with a B.S. degree in Marine Engineering. Peter also played soccer in the German American and American Soccer Leagues, where he competed against many of the top teams from Europe, representing New York City and the United States.
In 1961, he received a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from New York University. Professor Wiggins started his teaching career at the United States Naval Academy in July 1962. In addition to his teaching and other academic duties, he was an assistant soccer coach at USNA, working with Head Coach Glenn Warner until 1974. He was a coaching staff member of the 1963 NCAA National Championship USNA Varsity soccer team.
In July of 1965, he married the love of his life, Gertrude Wagner. Professor Wiggins was granted a Ph.D. degree (Nuclear Engineering), from The University of Maryland in 1970. During this time, Dr. Wiggins developed a research program which led to over seventy publications in both national and international technical journals. In addition, he presented his research at many national society meetings and universities in the United States. Dr. Wiggins is co-author of “Thermodynamics of Marine Engineering Systems.” This textbook has been used by over 600 midshipmen in every graduating class.
Dr. Wiggins served as the Associate Chairman, and Chairman of the Naval Systems Engineering Department as well as Program Director of Marine Engineering. During his tenure, he was responsible for the ABET accreditation of the Marine Engineering program. He served as the Faculty Representative for Soccer with Coach Greg Myers. Professor Wiggins served on many committees and Professional Societies, including: ASEE, ANS, and ASNE.
Over his forty -year career at USNA, Professor Wiggins taught courses in mechanical, marine, and nuclear engineering. He was a National Science Foundation Fellow and was elected a Fellow to the Washington Academy of Science. In 1973 Professor Wiggins was selected for “Outstanding Instruction to Engineering Students Award”, by the American Society of Engineering Education. Dr. Wiggins was the first recipient of the “U.S. Naval Academy Award for Teaching Excellence” in 1987. In 1988 he was selected by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education as the Professor of the Year in the State of Maryland and was a National Bronze Medalist for Professor of the Year in the United States.
He thoroughly enjoyed his daily interaction with Midshipmen, colleagues and friends in Annapolis. He is survived by his wife of 57 years Gertrude, his son Mark (Julie), and daughter Christina (Jeff). His extended family includes eight granddaughters: Caroline, Elisabeth, Caitlin, Chloe Miller and Katherine, Emily, Anna, and Mary Wiggins as well as great granddaughter Giselle King and Sister-in-law Veronika Moore (Stanley).
A funeral mass will be celebrated at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida on June 1, 2023 at 9:30 AM. A memorial service will be held at St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis, MD in late summer 2023.
The Wiggins family thanks everyone for their kindness and support during this difficult time. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to either of the following in Peter’s memory: Community Hospice & Palliative Care (Anne & Donald McGraw Center for Caring) Give | Community Hospice & Palliative Care or US Naval Academy Alumni Association & Foundation US Naval Academy Alumni Association & Foundation - www.usna.com