Originally I was nervous about having to write this week, since last week there was really only one thing I, like many in the community, was thinking about, and that's Ray.
Ray Peters was many things to many people, but one thing's for sure; he worked hard for what he believed in. Ray had what so precious few in this world have and that's the love of a fantastic woman, not to mention the love, trust, and respect of an entire community. The kicker of course is adding the fact that he was, among other things, a politician.Thankfully, I don't get out to many memorials but I must say that the celebration of life that was held last week was absolutely fantastic. Humongous props to all those responsible for creating a fantastic place to deal with such a loss. The foyer pictures and the speakers were incredible and if there was a dry eye in the house it was gone halfway through the makeshift trail to the packed auditorium.
The foyer picture that got me captured him on the trail; hand on the cord, ready to start the saw. The background was just your typical Squamish beauty with assorted trail tools lying about. And there he was built like a brick house and begging for that picture to be taken so he could pull the cord and get some work done. Later the reception at the Howe Sound Inn was the perfect healing combination of good stories, good beer and good food.
I must say that by the end of the day I was feeling downright optimistic. This hit me when I realized that Ray isn't gone, he's a legend whose impact will be felt in this town forever. As awkward as it is to talk politics so soon, his pivotal political position cannot be ignored.
His plunge into Muni Hall came in a dark time in Squamish's history when our elected voices created a deep divide in this town as they embarrassingly waged a war with outdoor recreation. Ray was truly a bridge builder bringing all community segments together with his passionate belief in the trails.
His being elected and re-elected was a message loud and clear that the people of Squamish value our recreational assets, and as such they must be taken seriously. It's encouraging to think part of his legacy is that no one in power can revert back to the traditional attitudes. His presence on council once and for all legitimized the trails as something the entire community truly wants. His passing creates quite the void and one hopes his message will never be forgotten.
Now, as life goes on and we turn to this town's continued explosion, I smile knowing I was lucky enough to have known, and been inspired by his tireless activism, enthusiasm and optimism. Like all legends, Ray's passing has produced the traditional memorial sticker and its slogan is absolutely perfect. It simply says, 'Thanks Ray'.