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Shunpiking Memorial           Biography

My Thoughts on Pete Bowman

When I speak of Pete, I must speak of Pete and Mitzi together as that is how we met and knew them, and I speak of "we", for without Tom it is doubtful I would have gotten to know the Bowman's. We met Pete and Mitzi in 1988. They had just bought some property on Heckmans Island, near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. At the time a new plastics plant was coming to Lunenburg, which was to accept military contracts, and indeed it later made the casings for the ADATS system which was used in the Gulf War. I had just met Tom that winter when the announcement was made about the plant and Tom, being a long-time social activist, declared that we should oppose this war industry in our town. And so I was introduced to the world of social activism. That fall, Pete and Mitzi picked up one of our statements about the plastics plant, and gave us a call, and soon we met.

Pete and Mitzi were what we called "Summer People", that is, people who had summer homes here and lived elsewhere in the winter. For Tom and I, the sign that summer had arrived was when Pete and Mitzi had returned. During the summer we would have them and other friends over for dinner. Over the years we had many serious discussions about the various problems in our society and what should be done about it. Naturally at times the discussions got rather heated, but Pete always kept his cool, calmly bringing the voice of reason to the conversation. Perhaps that was the engineer in him, the rest of us having a more artistic temperament.

And the sign that summer was finally over, was the meal we had with the Bowman's just before they left. On our drive over to Heckmans Island, Tom would ask me, "What do you think we will have?" "Chicken", I would reply, "And what do you think we will have for desert?" "One of Pete's pies", Tom would reply; for this was the traditional fare for the last meal, so to speak. By now Pete had been diagnosed with cancer and was following a healthy diet to help fight it. The organic chicken was always delicious, stewed and tender, which reminded me of how my mother would do chicken. And there would be lots of vegetables, which I loved. But the pie ....well ...it's pretty difficult to make a healthy pie crust that is tender and flaky when you can't use the things that make it so, that is, shortening and white flour, and the lack of sugar didn't help; but Pete deserves a medal for trying and he never gave up on the idea. We dutifully ate our desert and asked for seconds. Actually it wasn't bad, as long as you didn't think "pie".

When Pete and Mitzi had their car accident, all of Heckmans Island was sure they would never be back; however, Tom and I were not so sure. We missed them that next summer but sure enough, the next year they were back. We had always been impressed with their determination and inspired with their dedication to the opposition of radioactive contamination and depleted uranium, their participation in the anti-war movement, their concern for the environment and social justice. They could have peacefully retired on Heckmans Island, but never for a moment did they retire from their social activism. So cancer and a broken back for Pete and a smashed leg for Mitzi, did not stop them!

In the fall of 2004, Tom and I were driving from Heckmans Island where we had been getting the Bowman's cottage ready for their last return as Pete's health was failing, when Tom died suddenly of a heart attack. For me, this was an end of an era, with Tom gone and the Bowman's not returning, for although we did not spend huge amounts of time together, our lives had been entwined over those years with our common concern for the wellbeing of humanity. And now Pete's life has also ended.

What we do with our lives becomes a part of history. Those who dedicate their lives unselfishly to make the world a better place, no matter how little impact it may seem to have at the time, with the collective push of many others, will be seen in history as the part of society that pushed the world into true civilization; into a world fit for human existence.Pete has his place in this history; the world is a better place because of his life. Pete, we thank you.

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