Pete Furniss received his BS in Commerce (major in Accounting) from the University of Virginia in 1963; served in the U.S. Navy from 1963-1967; and then spent his career in the manufacturing of refrigeration and air conditioning products, first at Larkin Coils where his last position was President, and then at Computer Process Controls where he was Chairman of the Board. He and his wife, Gail, currently live on a horse farm some 50 miles southwest of Atlanta, GA.
They have been involved with orchids since the 1960s but their passion dates to the early 1980s. He has served in various positions with the AOS including Assistant Treasurer, Treasurer, Executive Vice President, and President. He was made an Honorary Vice President in 1999, given the AOS Gold Medal of Achievement in 2002, and the AOS Ambassador Award in 2004.
His service on the World Orchid Conference Trust began as Trustee in 1992; and he has been President twice – 1996 to 1999 and 2005 to current. The Organizing Committee of the 17th World Orchid Conference presented him with a Gold Medal of Appreciation in Shah Alam, Malaysia, in 2002.
From 1995-2007, he was an Honorary Advisor to the Asian Pacific Orchid Conference Main Committee and served on the International Orchid Commission from 1993 until 2008. He was a Vice Chairman for the last 6 years of that service.
He has been a member of the Atlanta Orchid Society since 1981 and served as President in 1986; the Greater New York Orchid Society since 1991; and charter member of the International Phalaenopsis Alliance as well as the Pleurothallid Alliance.
The Furnisses have both been Accredited AOS judges for 17 years in the Atlanta Judging Center. They have received some 39 AOS awards, one of which was the 2007 Benjamin Kodama Sr. Dendrobium Award for the most outstanding example of the Dendrobium Alliance awarded during the previous year.
Pete also serves on the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Orchid Committee as well as the RHS Advisory Sub-Committee on Orchid Hybrid Registration.