Equally at home piloting an airplane on secret government missions over the jungles of South America as he is at the helm of a passenger carrying riverboat, Pete Cardozo is one of those rare people who has lived life on the edge doing incredibly interesting and dangerous things all over the world.
Pete fondly remembers the stories his parents told of their visiting the Northern Neck in 1945 when he was a lad of two. The family arrived from Washington D.C. aboard the excursion steamboat down the Potomac River to Colonial Beach. As the youngster descended the gangplank, he saw an old man shucking oysters. The old man said, “Hey kid come here and open your mouth.” He quickly slid a shucked raw oyster into Pete’s mouth. That was his first taste of a Chesapeake Bay oyster and the Northern Neck of Virginia.
Pete was a Navy brat from day one. At the time he was born, his father was a young Lieutenant stationed at Anacostia Naval Air Station in Washington, D.C. When WWII ended, Pete’s dad was discharged from the Navy and the family first moved to California and then other states throughout the years. As a youngster growing up, Pete always had a love for airplanes and boats. At the age of 14, he began working summers aboard a lobster boat off the coast of New Hampshire.
Cardozo graduated from Eastern Oregon University with a Bachelor of Science degree and served six years in the USMCR. He completed pilot training and then went on to graduate from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center-Criminal Investigator School and attended numerous government and military aviation, marine and law enforcement training schools.
Pete had a 22-year career with U.S. Customs Aviation & U.S. Customs Marine where he served as a Customs Pilot and Marine Commander. Realizing the importance of joining the two separate offices of Customs Aviation and Customs Marine into a single office, Pete worked hard to make this happen. In 1999, the office of Customs Air and Marine was formed into a single more affective and cohesive narcotics interdiction unit, utilizing aviation and marine assets.
As an experienced aviator, Pete flew narcotics interdiction missions aboard specially equipped multiengine jet aircraft throughout the U.S., Mexico, Central and South America. He also served as the U.S. Customs Marine Commander in San Diego, where he directed a fleet of narcotics interdiction vessels and their crews on the Pacific Ocean and along the U.S./Mexico border. To keep his stick and rudder skills sharp, and for fun, Pete towed gliders behind vintage crop duster aircraft in the mountains east of San Diego.
Because of government maximum age restrictions for pilots and law enforcement officers, Pete retired from government service in 1998. He and his wife Nancy sold their home in Poway, California and relocated to Florida. They wanted to be near their daughter, who had just graduated from the Air Force Academy as a 2Lt.and Special Agent with OSI at Patrick Air Force Base.
Nancy and Pete, who were both 16, met in 1959 while in high school. After attending different colleges, they were married in 1968. They had a son in 1970 and a daughter in 1974, who followed the family tradition of military service. Their son Scott and daughter Barbara and son-in-law Brian all graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy. Lt. Col. Scott and Lt. Col. Brian are both career Air Force officers and decorated aviators. Captain Barbara, a former OSI Detachment Commander, separated from the Air Force after her six-year commitment to be a full-time mother.
While living in Florida, Pete was the captain aboard a 90’, 149-passenger authentic side-wheel riverboat on the St Johns River and a 130’, 338-passenger riverboat on the Arkansas River in Little Rock. Since 1974 Pete has held a USCG 100 Ton Masters License. When he wasn’t running the riverboats, Pete was flying a corporate jet for an Orlando company. He has held a FAA Airline Transport Pilot Certificate for multiengine aircraft since 1967.
Since 2012, Pete has been the captain aboard the Hope and Glory Inn’s 42’ 25-Passenger deadrise doing scenic cruises on Carter’s Creek, the Rappahannock and Corrotoman Rivers. Pete also initiated the “Discovery Cruises” program at the Deltaville Maritime Museum, where he takes passengers for cruises aboard vintage Chesapeake Bay workboats.
Before beginning his government career in 1976, Pete worked as a pilot involved in experimental electronic flight test and research and development for tactical military aircraft electronic navigation systems. He also flew corporate jets for the globetrotting Rockefeller family.
In 2007 Pete’s riverboat in Florida was sunk by a tornado. He knew that it was time to increase their search for a home in the Northern Neck that had begun in 1998. It was not until they sold their home in Florida in late 2009 that they were able to really focus on finding a home in the Northern Neck. They remembered visiting the old Beane farm in Lancaster that had been developed into a private 225 acre preserve with only 41 home sites, known as the Western Branch Preserve. They remembered seeing only two homes in 2006, one of which was a lovely new Allison Ramsey Architects designed 2500 sq. ft. coastal cottage. In late 2009, Pete and Nancy contacted the owner/agents and learned the cottage was not for sale. However, they made an offer that was accepted and the rest is history. They have enjoyed living in the Western Branch Preserve for the past 3½ years. Their coastal cottage is located on a private acre within the preserve with beautiful panoramic views overlooking the Corrotoman River, the rolling fields and woodlands.
Nancy said they often enjoy dinners cooked over the grill on the large open side deck and served on the back covered-screened porch. The two-story cottage has Brazilian cherry wood floors throughout and thick crown molding with 10’+ ceilings downstairs and upstairs and five walk-in attics. The 4-bedroom, 3-bath maintenance free home has Cedar Impressions siding, Timber Tech porch rails and decks, standing seam metal roofs over all four porches and Koma-Board trim. The cottage is built on a conditioned crawl space that ensures a dry vermin-free area under the home. Cooking indoors is a chef’s delight in a kitchen featuring granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and opens to the great room and dining area. For plenty of natural light, the home has 32 Andersen windows and 5 Andersen doors.
Pete is very interested in history and is particularly interested in the history of his own family. He has ancestors who immigrated to this country in the 1700s and fought in the American Revolution and the Civil War.
Pete follows his late father in his love of vintage boats and nautical antiques. Hung on the wall of the great room is a large hand carved name board that once adorned the pilothouse of the vintage motor yacht CHALENA, built in 1927 for the Packard family and purchased by the Woolworth family in 1929.
Just to the right of the coastal cottage, there is a two-story guesthouse of similar architecture and construction. The first floor has a large two-car garage and Pete’s workshop, where he enjoys refinishing small traditional skiffs. On the second floor you will find an 800-sq. ft. guest suite complete with pine floors, a full bath, kitchenette and wonderful views of the river through four more Andersen windows.
Nancy Cardozo is an accomplished artist and samples of her work decorate various rooms in the house. Nancy likes to work in watercolors and is an avid art buff. The art of the dance is another of her passions, and at one time she was a professional ballerina. Nancy danced with the Westchester Ballet Company in Ossining, New York. Nancy’s pride is in the family she has raised and the joy she gets from watching their two children and three granddaughters grow and
flourish. Nancy is excited that both military families are soon returning to South Carolina and Florida after long overseas assignments.
Pete and Nancy Cardozo have personalized the home to reflect the many and varied interests they both share. It is an interesting place to visit and is warm and welcoming with the very special and unique flavor brought to it by its owners. Pete said, “After that first oyster 68 years ago, living in the beautiful and historic Northern Neck is like coming full circle.”