February Newsletter 2024

“Never Waste an Opportunity”

A Visit with Greg Whitmarsh

By Dale Dauten

When Activities Director Lu Way suggested that I meet Greg Whitmarsh, she mentioned that he was a veteran and that he was the DJ for the park’s karaoke. And I was pleased that Greg was able to find photos of both, one from his old days in the Army and one from his new days as Silveridge DJ, that time for a disco event.

But I had a surprise in store. I’m always surprised by the folks I get to interview at the park, but what I wasn’t expecting was that the former military guy in the disco wig turns out to be happy to talk philosophy and to joke about it while he does.


It happened when I asked Greg my favorite question, the one about the best advice he’s ever gotten, and he replied, “Never waste an opportunity.” He not only gladly expanded upon that notion, but also told a story of a life not wasted.


More philosophy later, but first, two world changing events that Greg embraced as opportunities to change his world.



Greg grew up as the oldest of three kids in Oswego, New York, eventually graduating from Oswego High and then studying computer engineering at SUNY Plattsburgh and then at ITT before becoming a design engineer for an electronics company in Syracuse. Then the world changed: 9/11. Greg changed with it: he quit his job and took a major pay cut to join the Army. He ended up being assigned to work with early detection systems and was sent for advanced training to Fort Bliss in El Paso.


Greg left behind in New York the woman he wanted to marry, and while in El Paso he bought an engagement ring, intending to propose. However, he described his reaction upon learning that he was about to be deployed overseas: “I called Becky and said, ‘I’m going to fly you to El Paso this weekend. Bring a nice dress because we’re going to get married.’ She just said, ‘What?’”


Not the most romantic proposal ever, but it worked. He picked her up at the El Paso airport and they went straight to the courthouse. “There was nobody else there,” Greg recalled, “no family or friends. It was a wedding just for us, nobody else.” (A recent photo of Greg and Becky)


Within a month, Greg shipped out to South Korea, a place with plenty of systems that were now his specialty, early warning. (Although, in the case of South Korea, they estimated their warning of an attack from the North stood at a terrifying 70 seconds). Then he was off to duty in Egypt, and eventually to Iraq. Finally, he was where he originally volunteered to be, a war zone. But, as Greg explained, “I was there 27 days when an air conditioning unit slid off a truck and I got crushed.” That send him back to the States, back to El Paso, and eventually to a medical discharge.


He and Becky moved back to New York and Greg took a job with Lockheed and then BAE. Unable to have kids, they began fostering and at one point had six kids living with them. Meanwhile, missing the camaraderie of the military, Greg became active as a volunteer firefighter.

Along came a chance for Greg to move into a much better job and he and Becky relocated to New Hampshire. This was 2019. And the world was about to change again.



It was on January 3, 2020, that China officially informed the CDC Director that a “mysterious respiratory illness was spreading in Wuhan.” As you’ll well remember, it wasn’t long before there were shortages of hand sanitizer and face masks, and we were all figuring out how to use Zoom. For Greg, it meant working remotely and he seized that opportunity. As he explained, “We lived in a camper for two years. It was a chance to get out and see the nation without having to take vacation. We did 27 states, 40,000 miles.”


One of those places was Mesa, where their visited friends at Silveridge, Doug and Kathy Callahan. “We had our fifth-wheel at one of the huge parks nearby,” Greg recalled, “but we toured Silveridge and it was the right size, with the right balance of people and activities. We wanted to come back and stay for the winter, but it was fully booked. We went on a waiting list and made plans for Florida, but they called with a cancellation, and we came to Silveridge.” During their first stay, they bought a park model and eagerly jumped into activities (like the Christmas parade, as shown below).

In addition to being DJ for karaoke, Greg is helping to establish a motorcycle club and he showed us the design for a new club logo…

Through it all, Greg still works fulltime as Director of Engineering, Electronic Combat Systems, for BEA back in New Hampshire. He says, “I’m at a level where I get to pick the projects I work on.”



Let’s end where we began, with advice and philosophizing…


Not only did Greg and Becky take advantage of Covid to hit the road, they also simplified their lives – they sold everything they owned. Greg talked of that decision: “It was freeing. Everything we owned was in the camper. What I realized is that possessions aren’t security, they’re risks. You own stuff, you have to worry about it, insure it.


“You never know how long you have in life, so don’t play ‘what can’t I do.’ I’d rather do something and regret it than not do something and regret not doing it.” Then he laughed at his own intensity and concluded, “I lead a complicated but simple life. Change is good.”


(Photo: Greg, ready to DJ)