I realize that I missed the funeral date but thought I'd write anyway.
I don't remember the sequence of events that lead Peter to becoming a good friend of our family as a whole and each of us individually. I remember working on Tower Talks with him on his porch and finding it fascinating that we could use light blue pencil on the layout sheets without it showing up in the printed paper. He always had interesting stories to tell from his time in Sri Lanka or the Navy. And if I needed a sounding board for term paper ideas (or someone to type it for me), he was always available. Now that I think about it, the fact that he was so available to us even though he devoted most of his time during those years to caring for his aunt and then his mother is quite remarkable. While others may remember his for his dramatic flair and his knowledge and interest in many fields, I think it is his gentleness with his aunt and mother, and generosity with neighbors that impresses me most.
I saw Peter only sporadically after moving away from Minneapolis 25 years ago. But every time I did see him, his presence always added vivacity to the room (or porch or yard).
Finally, I remember that Peter professed to being a Buddhist. In his honor, I invite everyone reading this to reflect on the preciousness of human existence and the impermanence of all things. As human beings born in an affluent society, we have a tremendous amount of freedom and the ability to lead meaningful lives and to help others. But our lives, and those of all beings, are fleeting, "like water bubbles". May Peter, and all of us, be free from suffering and enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.
I miss you, your almost daily visits, the funny stories you told and the copies of City Pages, The Onion and various neighborhood newspapers with the important information already underlined.
You typed many of my papers and delivered and returned my library books when I was in graduate school.
You telephoned my mother in Florida. You created amusing certificates and cards for her. I especially remember the notarized certificate you presented to her for bringing good weather to Minneapolis.
You were lilke a brother to me and an uncle to my children. You always had time for us. Every time the doorbell rings, I know it is not you, but I wish it was,
Thank you Peter for enriching our lives.
I grew up a few houses down the street from where Peter lived for at least 30 years. He moved in to take care of his Aunt "Buzzy". Peter was like an Uncle to me, and he was part of my growing up. I will always remember him for his generosity, knowledge as well as his love of helping others and contributing to the community. He always had loads of interesting stories or experiences to share from his childhood or from his studies in Ceylon.
I remember my first encounter with Peter as a youngster, on Halloween of all times. Peter had rented part of the house to 2 students, both whom had babysat us several times. So my younger sister Miriam and I decided to try them for Trick or Treat, since the entire house was lit up like a Christmas tree. We were very surprised to be greeted by a strange man with a long mustache.
"OHHH, it's Holloween???.....I'm so sorry, I totally forgot and don't have any candy for you,…. but why don't you come in and I"ll heat up some cider for the two of you..."
Of course all alarms and bells went off in my head for all children had been warned not to accept unwrapped candy especially from strangers, not alone dare enter their homes. Being sure we were about to become part of a scheme to be poisoned, kidnapped or worst, we promptly turned around quickly and ran to our father who was waiting nearby. Of course we all later became aquatinted.
I was in 6th or 7th grade when Dutch Elm disease hit Prospect Park, killing tree after tree. Peter invited me to join him at a lecture/demonstration on how to inject your trees on your own to protect them. Together we organized the block. Collected money from all who were interested bought the necessary equipment and taught all the neighbors how to inject their trees. That kept the 2 of us busy for most of that summer.
Later, the editor of the local neighborhood paper "Tower Talks" needed someone to replace him, so Peter took on the task (which basically took over his entire dining room and porch) and continued for several years. I would stay up late with peter to help with the layout (no PC's yet) and also wrote several articles too.
During my High School years Peter encouraged me to participate in the Science Fair. (He was enraged that we didn't get any encouragement from school). Being in the Navy, he would judge at fairs, and he helped me with my project twice. The second project dealt with populations of the Elm beetles that spread the disease, and Peter gave me the confidence to turn to the Entomology Dept. at the U of M who helped me with the project and consequently got me sent to West Point as 2nd runner up at the National Science Competition.
No matter what it was, Peter was always there for me to help, give interesting advice, lend a hand or his noisy pick-up truck or just be there to listen. He would pop up suddenly, stay for lunch or dinner. He was like part of the family.
After finishing at the U of M, I moved overseas. From time to time Peter would send me a hilarious letter to keep me posted of what was going on in Prospect Park. Every time I visited Peter would invite me to lunch out, and was intrigued to hear of my experiences and adventures in Israel for hours.
I feel I am very lucky to have had Peter as a friend. He spiced up my childhood. I am sad to hear of his passing away and even sadder to learn the circumstances. I wish I could have helped him in return for what he gave me. I will always remember him. May his memory be blessed, and may he rest in peace.