BEC Leaders

Click on the title to see his biography:

ig Sir: Rich Carlston
Little Sir: Tom DiGrande
Secretary:  Carl Ludwig
Assistant Secretary: Hugh Barnett
Treasurer:  Dan Casella
Assistant Treasurer: Peter Shapiro
Attendance Secretary: Manuel Dominguez
Asst. Attendance Secretary: Dan Smith
Membership Secretary: Rich Knowles
Asst. Membership Secretary: Rick McGuire

Director: Mike Frey
Director: Chick Lowry
Director: Martin Simmons

Big Sir: Rich Carlston

I was born in Denver, Colorado.  I received a BA in Mathematics from the University of Colorado and a JD from George Washington School of Law.  Between undergraduate and law school, I spent four years as an officer in the US Army.  My wife Sue and I have been married 50 years in February and have lived in Walnut Creek for over 40 years.  We have two sons (both college professors), each of whom is married.  We have six grandchildren.

Before retiring, I was an attorney with a national practice in the real estate industry both as a trial attorney and a regulatory attorney.  I was frequently asked about various legal topics for corporations, state and national trade associations, the California State Bar, State and Federal regulators.

For many years, I have been involved in community service in numerous capacities with numerous organizations.  I served on the PROS Commission for the City of Walnut Creek as well as on the City Council.  I am a former Mayor of Walnut Creek.

I joined SIR in 2020 and have enjoyed exploring many of the activities.  I recently became the State Secretary.

Little Sir: Tom DiGrande

Born in San Francisco, Ca  – Raised in Oakland, Ca. Graduated from Oakland Technical High School. Married my High School “Sweetheart “ (Sharon). Have 2 beautiful & smart daughters, 2 great sons-in-law, and 2 amazing grandsons.

Started working as a Lube Technician in Oakland, and advanced to a Service Management position. Eventually offered a Management position with a large national Dealership Group in Fixed Operations (Service and parts). As time went on, my reputation grew, moved to another Dealership Group out of Oregon as Area Service and parts Director (over Fixed Operations of 16 facilities). Had the opportunity to join a local Dealer Group as a Managing Partner & Director of Fixed Operations (12 Dealer facilities).  After 50 years in the Dealership Fixed Operations, retired in December 2016 and joined SIR

Treasurer: Dan Casella

Dan was born in Battle Creek, Michigan. His family moved to Rockaway Beach, NY when he was four and lived there for 26 years until he and his wife, Helene, moved to Hamilton, MA where they resided for 37 years. They moved to their current residence in Clayton, CA in 2009. Dan & Helene have one son, David, who lives in San Francisco with his wife, Aimee Golant, and their grandson Kaleb. Dan spent four years in the United States Air Force and, after his service, received his BSEE from New York Institute of Technology and his MSEE from New York University.

Dan spent his 34-year career as an Electrical Engineer, Computer Scientist and Software Engineer dealing with real-time programming and system design. He has conducted research on advanced lighting systems, warehouse automation, advanced power line communications, medical equipment design, software engineering for cell phone communications, and fuel cell research. Dan retired in 2004 and is now enjoying his retirement pursuing his lifelong interest in photography and computer technology along with his family, especially his grandson Kaleb. Dan joined Branch 8 in October 2016 and has been the Assistant/Treasurer since 2018. Dan is also the co-chair of the Dine In 4 group.

Assistant Treasurer: Peter Shapiro

Peter Shapiro grew up in Western Massachusetts, the nephew of a Chevrolet dealer and son of a Dodge dealer.  He has degrees in Automotive Marketing and Business Management.  In his high school years, he worked on a dairy farm and was active in Future Farmers of America.  But his future was not to be in farming.  He worked for auto parts giant NAPA, Goodyear, ADP and 3M, all in automotive-related capacities.  Peter is an alumnus of a small group of ADP employees who worked for three out of four of ADP’s divisions, two of which were automotive-related the third being payroll.

In 1993 Peter bought a home in Walnut Creek where he was elected to the Board of Directors of the HOA.  He enjoyed overseeing the finances and maintaining the property.  He eventually changed careers and completed fourteen years in HOA Management in December 2022 when he retired for the second time.

As a new retiree, Peter keeps busy.  He is now back on the board of the HOA where he lives, is active in SIR Car Enthusiast, Single Dine Out, and Bocce Ball.  He walks around the Lafayette Reservoir frequently and attends lectures and various activities with friends.  Peter is also on the board of the East Bay Jewish Film Festival. 

Secretary:  Carl Ludwig

I was born and raised in California, then attended Oberlin College in Ohio where I met my future wife, Virginia. We moved to Ann Arbor Michigan where I received an MPH in Biostatistics at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Wanting to return to California and the SF Bay Area, we packed up belongings in 1975 and landed in San Francisco. There, I worked for several healthcare companies over the next ten years before joining Delta Dental, a company what would employ me until I retired in 2018. My family had made a final household move to Orinda in 1988.

I find the entire field of healthcare fascinating. I have leveraged my statistical background into the use of analytics and visual presentations for interpreting all types of healthcare data.

Retirement finds me fortunate to enjoy my two sons and their families (five grandchildren), both of whom live in the Bay Area. I joined SIRs in 2019 and have been active in the Hikers group. I became the Hikers activity chairman in 2022. The Covid pandemic brought me indoors and into the SIR Book Group and the What I’ve Been Reading Recently meetings. I accepted the BEC Secretary position in 2023.

Assistant Secretary: Hugh Barnet

Membership Secretary: Rich Knowles

Born in 1948 in Los Angeles County and lived first ten years of life there.    Then lived in Los Alamitos, just over the county border in Orange County until after finished college.  Then went to Chicago, Washington, D.C. (technically Reston, VA), and then came back to California in 1982 and have lived in Contra Costa County ever since.

Got a B.S. from UC Davis and then M.S. and M.B.A. from University of Chicago.  Decided could not be a professional student at that point (1975).

Worked as a consultant with titles like statistician, economist, and just plain consultant for 14 years.  Only company still existing I worked at is SAIC (Science Applications Incorporated Company I guess – it was just SAI when I was there).

I then officially became a programmer (though I had been that too all along) and worked for 20 years at the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco as a programmer and then manager of programmers.  I was really good at training computers – not so good but not bad at training people.  I ended up as a Vice President at the Bank.

Twice in this working period I was self-employed, and both times I decided to become an employee again after a while.  Though being a consultant is fairly close to being self-employed.

Once retired I became involved in several volunteer efforts – the civil grand jury of Contra Costa County and the California Grand Jury Association.  I also did programming for Meals on Wheels and Senior Outreach Services in Walnut Creek.  I served on the board of Earthteam, and eventually became president.  I was co-chair Shipmates, a large singles social group (over 3,000 members and a group of 200 volunteers to manage over 200 events per month).  In 2016 I joined SIR (having been retired since 2009).

And now I mostly play golf.  Sometimes with SIR and sometimes with other friends I have made.  I also play bridge with SIR, belong to book clubs, and sponsor the SIR podcast and model train activities.  I have also joined Singles Dine Out.  I like to take vacations and make it a point to several times per year.  Sometimes overseas and sometimes not.  And lastly, I can’t leave out that I am on a number of SIR committees because I really like Zoom meetings.

Assistant Membership Secretary: Rick McGuire


Attendance Secretary and Email distribution: Manuel Dominguez

I was born in Glendale California.  Moved from Southern California to San Mateo California in 1983.  I have been a resident of Pleasant Hill since 1997.  Married to Mona for 40 years.  One son living in Pleasant Hill with his wife.

A forty-three-year career in Information Technology with an emphasis on Data Architecture.  Worked at multiple Bay Area companies as a consultant for thirty-four years.  Finally became an employee at the University of California Office of the President in 2010, where I retired in 2019.

My primary hobby is listening to music via my audiophile stereo system mainly via vinyl records.

Joined SIR in 2018, Presently Attendance Secretary and responsible for the SIR Branch 8 email distribution.  Currently active in Hiking, Heads Up Walkers and Winefinders #2

Assistant Attendance Secretary: Dan Smith

Born in Norfolk, VA, I like stating that I grew up from Maine to Florida. I’ve lived in the Bay Area since 1974 and currently live in Concord. I have been married to a California gal, Lynda; for 48 years.  We have one son and I have two sons by my first marriage.

My association with my mother’s family, who operate a shipyard in Norfolk, influenced me to become a naval architect.  I obtained degrees from both VA Tech and MIT.  I am what we call a PE; licensed as a professional engineer.  The marine sector in the Bay Area has changed much since 1974, and I have managed to survive sometimes turbulent opportunities.  I experienced two layoffs and a plant shutdown over one eight-year span.  Being conservative in nature, I prevailed with my career and became Chief Naval Architect for Bruce S Rosenblatt and Assoc for 20 years.  My career has been very diverse, having supported the US Navy, offshore, oceanographic, ferries, tankers, cruise ships, and so forth.  I’ve also endeavored to mentor our younger naval architects.  I am still contacted by customers who want me to do a task for them.  Love to use my head.

Director: Michael Frey

I was born and raised in San Francisco, CA where I attended Grammar School, High School, and College.

In 1966 while attending college I joined Crown Zellerbach Corporation on a part-time basis working in their Mail Room. In 1968 I started working in their “data processing” department as a computer operator.  Within a couple of years, I was offered the opportunity to become a programmer.  I ended my 16-year career at CZ as a Programming Project Manager.  For the remainder of my career, I worked in a number of Information Technology positions including Application Development Manager for a Transportation Services Company and VP, Consultant Operations for an IT Consulting Services Company.

Lorraine and I were married in 1973 in San Francisco and in 1976 moved to Walnut Creek where we have raised a daughter and two sons.  We have been blessed with seven grandchildren.

I have been a member of SIR since 2012 and I am currently the chairman of the 9 Hole Golf.  I am a member of the Activity Coordinating Committee and a Director on the Branch Executive Committee.

Director: Chick Lowry

Hi! I’m Chick Lowry, I was California born and raised on the San Francisco Peninsula in Redwood City.  I married my wife, Elaine, 58 years ago and we are still talking to each other. We have 5 adult offspring, 4 boys and a girl, and 5 grandchildren, 4 girls and a boy.   We moved to Walnut Creek in 1979 when I was transferred to Chevron’s Oakland Operations offices after working many years for Standard Oil in San Francisco. The change in commute methods, from train to car, was just too time-consuming so we became East Bay residents.

 I went to work in a Standard Oil Service Station in Redwood City as a summer job following graduation from San Carlos High and continued in many capacities for 47 years, retiring in 2005.

After joining SIR Branch 8 in 2014 I found that there was no car related activity in the Branch 8 activity opportunities, so I founded the “Car Enthusiasts” Activity.   I have always had an interest in automotive-related activities, thus, a Car Enthusiasts. I enjoy working on classic vehicles and the challenge of diagnostic problem resolutions; however, it is becoming more difficult to work on computerized late-model vehicles. I did some straight-line racing (1/4 mile stuff) in my younger years. We currently have 36 Sir’s Car Enthusiasts in our activity.  One of these days I will find the project car that meets my dreams, and I will get started on a restoration of my own. 

I chair a league play Bocce Ball team that makes an effort to keep up with many more experienced players in the community league and enjoy Branch 8 weekly “open play Bocce” during the seasonal play opportunity. I enjoy Dominos and have joined the Model Trains Activity.   I am also a current Branch 8 Executive Committee Director and a member of the Activity Coordination Committee.

 Director: Martin Simmons

Retired after almost 40 years in Information Technology working for a variety of employers. Joined SIR Branch 8 a year later in 2012. DanWeller, whom I worked with, was my sponsor.

Born in England. Emigrated with family at age 12 from small town England to Los Angeles. A slight culture shock, especially as it was the 60’s.Graduated high school at age 16 and attended UCLA for two years before enlisting in the US Air Force as a Computer Programmer. Spent those years primarily in Alabama. Moved to Wisconsin afterwards before meeting my wife Sandy and moving together to Texas, then eventually on to Walnut Creek. Our 2 sons were born and raised here and still live in California.

During my career in the Bay Area (almost 30 years) I worked for Bank of America, American President Lines (APL), Delta Dental, McKesson, and PG&E. I programmed initially in COBOL on mainframes, then followed the evolution of the field into Client Server computing and the web (Java on UNIX servers). I also worked on SAP. Within Branch 8,

I’m been primarily active in Hikers and have also participated in the Walkers, DanSirs, and Dine Out groups. I was Assistant Chairman of Hikers for several years before becoming Chairman in 2021. I stepped down due to a Parkinson’s diagnosis. I’m currently on my second year as a BEC Director

updated 02/19/2024 dda