Steel Industry Mourns Terry Peshia, Former AISC Board Chair

Terry F. Peshia, CEO of of Garbe Iron Works, Aurora, Ill. (an AISC member and certified fabricator), and former chair of the AISC Board of Directors, passed away on August 9 at the age of 80. Fittingly, his company provided the steel fabrication for the hospital, Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora, where he died.

“The AISC Board is saddened by the loss of our friend and mentor Terry Peshia,” said David Zalesne, current AISC chair and president of Owen Steel Company, Columbia, S.C. (an AISC member and certified fabricator). “Terry joined the Board in 1996, and served as Board Chair from 2001-2003. He remained actively engaged in many Board activities over the years, including his current service as Chair of AISC Holdings, Inc., with oversight of AISC treasury and intellectual property assets. Even as the industry changed and evolved, Terry remained a strong advocate for its core values, which he lived out through his entire professional career at Garbe Iron Works, and his personal dedication to his wife Connie and their sons Ted and John.  The AISC Board will miss his presence, guidance and friendship.”

A recognized leader in the structural steel industry, Peshia began as an ironworker and joined Garbe Iron Works in 1964, where he spent his entire career. In addition to his significant contributions to AISC, he served as chair of the Central Fabricators Association and was a member of the Associated Steel Erectors. In 2009 he received the prestigious AISC Stupp Award for Leadership Excellence. He was a 1961 graduate of Worsham College of Mortuary Science and served his country proudly as a member of the United States Army.

“Terry's influence and impact on the steel industry cannot be overstated,” said Charlie Carter, AISC’s president. “He served and led AISC, CFA and the Ironworkers faithfully for many decades, all with wisdom, vigor, and dedication. A master of appropriate, helpful criticism, he also was your strongest supporter as you adapted to resolve it. His vision was always of what could be. His talent was orchestrating it to happen.”

Roger Ferch, former president of AISC, said, “I first met Terry 20 years ago when I joined the AISC Board. From the beginning, Terry was a mentor to me and very welcoming to new Board members. He was always very informed on topics of discussion and certainly never bashful about making his opinions known. But perhaps his greatest strength was that of being a team player and supporting the organization once a decision was made. As strong as he was working behind the scenes and voicing his thoughts during Board meetings, once a vote was taken Terry transferred his tireless volunteerism into executing the plan. I have many fond memories of Terry and will remember him as both a great friend and a mentor. He was a genuine leader and I listened closely to his sage advice. Terry was also the most influential in recruiting me to move from sunny California to Illinois to become AISC’s president in 2006.”

Larry Kruth, AISC’s vice president of engineering, added, “Terry has been a major influence to many people in the steel industry, not only through his leadership at AISC, but also his many years as a member and leader of CFA, and he will be greatly missed. He was a great inspiration to me personally by getting me actively involved in both organizations which eventually led to the position I now hold at AISC after working at Douglas Steel for over 30 years. I will truly miss his guidance and in-depth knowledge of the industry, and will always treasure his friendship and the help he has offered to me over the years. One of the most memorable experiences I had with Terry was the time he had the CFA Dinner hosted at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automotive Museum. In addition to the great experience, the most amazing part was to have Terry show us his 1932 Auburn Boattail Speedster.”

An avid car collector, Peshia was a member of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club and lifetime member of the ACD Museum in Auburn, Ind. He was also a freemason and a member of the Jerusalem Temple Lodge in Aurora, Ill. He was very involved in many county and community organizations including the Kendall County Board, the Oswego Village Board, the Kendall County Historical Society where he was a past president, and he was also a former Oswego police commissioner.

“In every organization, there is a committed individual that has a major impact on the success of the group,” said Lou Gurthet, former president of AISC. “Terry Peshia was that person with his family, with Garbe Iron Works, and AISC. Quiet, thoughtful and determined (even downright stubborn) he played that role in support of AISC. He had the ability to articulate what was needed, how it could be achieved, and the strength to hold to his conviction. He was the person you wanted as a friend and on your team.”

Tom Schlafly, chief of engineering at AISC, added, “I worked with Terry over 20 years ago and for many years since. He impressed me with his attention and success with some of the more arcane issues of running his business that many others did not show interest in.”

At his family’s request, memorials in memory of Terry may be directed to the American Institute of Steel Construction Education Fund, 130 East Randolph Suite 2000, Chicago, IL 60601, the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum, 1600 S. Wayne Street, Auburn, IN 46706, or The Church of the Good Shepherd United Methodist, 5 Washington Street, Oswego, IL 60543.