We have lost one of the really good guys with the passing of Peter Postuk on June 25, 2016.
It is difficult to capture any life story, especially Peter’s, in 800 words or less, because who he was is so much more than a composite of his many and varied accomplishments. He was a beloved doctor with a poet’s soul, a passionate prospector, a reluctant gunrunner and a true adventurer. He was a well loved man, and he lived life in technicolour as if each day were his last. To know him is to understand his story.
He was a first generation Canadian, born in Prince Rupert on November 29, 1926 to Montenegran parents. English was his second language, and, as a consequence of language or tradition, he became one more in a long line of Slavic storytellers. The oral tradition was part of who he was, and Story was his way of communicating things that were important to him.
He taught life lessons by telling stories which now we, his children and grandchildren, can recite verbatim. Through story he taught values and traditions which formed strong characters in each of us. Which one of us cannot recall: “Look to thyself”, or, “You never learn anything with your mouth open?” as tag lines to great and often repeated stories? Which one of us cannot recall the “Jungle Stories” of adventures in 1949 Central America without feeling like he was a latter-day Indiana Jones and wishing we were one too? Which one of us can forget the metaphoric stories about his dog, Percy, knowing the difference between a fair and foul ball? These, and other stories, have all become part of our own oral tradition, and part of the fiber that binds all his family together. The cycle of life continues.
He taught the value of community through modelling generous and open hearted behaviour with his friends, neighbours and his patients – all of whom were all old friends to him. He practised old fashioned people-based medicine and knew that sometimes a good chat over a whiskey was the best prescription he could offer. His door was always open and everyone was always welcomed around his table.
He was born in Prince Rupert and his roots ran deep into the northern coast. He drove taxi, fished and logged in the Skeena region as he put himself through medical school. He met the love of his life when Mum moved to Prince Rupert to teach (You have to meet my friend Pete!” said Nick to Peggy). He figured the best kind of people came from the North and assumed that most people he met and liked would have some connection to Prince Rupert. We all will remember the Sunday dinners when friends would come over and he would start the conversation with “Were your parents/cousins/grandparents from Prince Rupert?” And surprisingly, they often were!
It takes a village to raise up a child and Peter taught by example. All his llife he maintained his childhood friends from the Fraser Street Gang in Prince Rupert and his colleagues from medical school who later joined this cohort of brothers. He made many friends, across all age groups, and his prospecting adventures, in particular, brought new and valued friends into his life. all his friends became family to us, and we often lost count of who was a blood relative and who was an honourary uncle or aunt. They all mattered.
He loved deeply. His children and grandchildren put the sparkle in his eye and each one figured they were the one he loved best. And they were right. But we all knew it was Mum that had the number one spot in his life. She was as integral to his being as anyone could ever be. She was with him through thick and thin and he would have been lost without her.
Now that he has gone to join his beloved Papa, Luka, his mother Milica, his siblings, Mike, Dido, Barrels and Mary, and his many good friends on the other side, he leaves behind a large “family” of grieving remnants: His wife, Peggy; His children: Jayne and Ric, Morley and Rob and Peter and Sue; His grandchildren: John and Stephanie, David and Amy, Christina, Jayne, Alison, Sam, Chris and Jerek, and his long time friends: Nick, Bob, Mel, and Bud to name but a few; And his extended family of nieces and nephews who were like his own kids, and to us are now like siblings. He will be missed, but each time one of his stories is repeated, he will be ever present. He left a fine legacy.
We will hold a Celebration of Life Service at 2:00pm on July 5 at St. George’s Anglican Church located on St. George’s Lane, off Maynard Street in Cadboro Bay, Victoria. Everyone is welcome to attend.
The Cowichan District Hospital was always close to his heart, and care of the elderly and end of life patients particularly so. We ask that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to Cowichan Valley Hospice Society, 3122 Gibbins Road, Duncan, BC, V9L 1G2 or online at www.cowichanvalleyhospice.org
In some cultures, there is now word for “goodbye”. We are adopting that tradition.
Prospector Pete you will be missed. But we will all see you again – that is a certainty. So until then.