Paul Oreffice was born in Venice, Italy. When he was 11 years old his father was tortured and jailed by the Fascists for expressing an opinion that demeaned Mussolini and his disciples. Eventually Max Oreffice was tried and released to house arrest but his life was in danger. The following year the Oreffice family boarded the last ship to depart from Italy, 5 days before Italy entered WWII and headed for Ecuador, the only country to grant them a visa in time. Five years later Paul, then 17, headed alone for the United States and immediately enrolled at Purdue University speaking fewer than 50 words of English.
After graduating with a degree in Chemical Engineering and completing 2 years in the U.S. Army, Paul joined the Dow Chemical Company as a trainee. He worked for Dow for 40 years, serving the last 14 as DOW’s President and/or Chairman and CEO. In 2006 he published a book titled “ONLY IN AMERICA: From Immigrant to CEO,” describing his journey from a political refugee to a proud U.S. citizen, to the CEO of the country’s largest chemical company. His book is an inspiration to those who hope to live the “American Dream” like he has.
Paul says, “Becoming an American citizen meant becoming part of the greatest nation in the history of the world. Above all it meant freedom, the ability to succeed by your own actions, the ability to speak out without fear, the ability to raise a family in the knowledge that your children can grow up without shackles. I was now officially part of America, the land of the free!”