by Paul Oreffice with Tom Hanion
It begins in Italy, 1939. Mussolini is in power, and fascism is the rule of the day. Paul’s father has not come home for twelve days, and his mother anticipates the worst. In fact, the fascist police have severely beaten Paul’s father and thrown him in a tiny cell. For the sake of his family, Paul’s father wins the heart of one of his jailers, who places an anonymous call to Paul’s mother, relaying, “Your husband is alive.”
Thus begins the adventure that brings Paul and his family to America by way of Switzerland first and then Ecuador, escaping to that country only eight days before Italy enters World War II. Once in America, he enrolls at Purdue University though he knew almost no English. After graduating and serving for two years in the US Army during the Korean War, Paul rises rapidly through The Dow Chemical Company’s ranks, helping it go from a domestic company to an international powerhouse through his roles as CEO, president, and chairman.
Only in America weaves the story of Paul’s immigration to America, revealing how difficult early experiences sharpened him and molded his outlook on management and life. He gives practical business advice—from someone who has been there—on how anyone, especially an immigrant, can seize the abundant opportunities this country offers, converting obstacles and setbacks into achievements and success.
About the Author
Paul Oreffice was born in Venice, Italy, in 1927. In 1940 he moved with his family to Quito, Ecuador, and in 1945 came to the USA. He went directly to Purdue University where he graduated in February 1949 with a BS in Chemical Engineering.
After two years in the US Army, Paul joined The Dow Chemical Company in February 1953. After a variety of international and management assignments, he became the president and CEO of the company in April 1978. He later added the title of chairman of the board. He retired in December 1992.
Paul has served on the boards of CIGNA, Coca-Cola, Morgan Stanley, and Nortel. He is currently the chairman of Fairfield Homes and is on the board of Spirit Finance Corporation. He is also the chairman of The National Parkinson Foundation and on the visiting board of MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is the only recipient ever of all three medals awarded periodically by the world chemical industry.
He lives in Scottsdale, Arizona; Lake Tahoe, Nevada; and Saratoga Springs, New York, with his wife, JoAnn. He has two children and four grandchildren.