HOW I KNEW PETER REZANSOFF
(Deceased May 16, 2021)
My remarks today will highlight how Peter and I enjoyed associating with each other as we contributed to Society and achieved our mutual social needs.
Today is a sad day and we are paying our respects to this man which we all loved and respected but the smile will not leave my face as I now recall how we enjoyed living together.
His biography and achievements have been presented by his family and others.
Because I spent 17 years in formal education, his determination in that regard was under extreme personal challenges starting with out-of-classroom studies until his mid twenties to qualify for a grade 10 level. He then undertook classes at Douglas College and BCIT to achieve his total education while framing houses and other projects in the evenings to support his family. I found my education difficult, in my experience, but what Peter was able to do is monumental. He did this to qualify for Architectural Technology with distinction at BCIT and was professionally called upon many times by that institution after graduation.
And so I will start with a demonstration of his sense of humour when we disembarked at Dominican Republic during our Caribbean Cruise. We took a bus tour to Santiago and our guide instructed us to walk 7 blocks through a shopping area and eventually boarding the bus on the on other end. This enterprising shoeshine boy started following me to permit him to shine my running shoes. I said “get real” and shooed him away. Then I saw Peter and Elsie having a wine in this Tavern and Peter was waving me in. I went in but so did the Shoeshiner. Peter immediately paid him to only shine one of my running shoes , while I protested. Yes, one shoe was perfectly clean while the other not so. I would not consent to pay for the other shoe. The problem became acute when we finally boarded the bus and Marilyn saw what had happened and immediately started a fuss to the enjoyment of Peter. I looked out the bus window and would swear that young lad was chasing the bus all the way back to our resort.
Peter prided himself in the choice of vehicles and offered to drive us to an ICBA Convention in Penticton on his BMW, choosing the Okanagan Connector for our route. Marilyn and Elsie were having a very absorbing conversation in the back seat while Peter and I continued in our mission of resolving Doukhobour issues. Half way along, Peter calmly advised me that his gas tank was empty but he had a plan: he would only start the motor on any rise in the Highway and coast the rest of the way into Peachland. As usual, Peter was able to navigate that BMW into the correct entrance to Peachland that had a Gas Station at the lake front. He casually stepped out and filled his tank while our trusting wives had no idea how close they were to walking.
While we were all still on the Lower Mainland, we initiated the idea to construct a Retreat Center on the property owned by the Doukhobour Cultural Association (DCA) so that the children we saw in the downtown core of Vancouver could experience Nature in all its beauty, together with children from all parts of British Columbia. This became the eventual organization of the Doukhobour Heritage Retreat Society #1999 (DHRS #1999). Peter Fominoff was at that dinner with Rezansoffs and Verigins when the two Peters committed themselves to assist in any way possible to achieve this objective. Peter Rezansoff designed the Retreat Center and Peter Fominoff conducted all the legal work.
Funding as well as donations was a necessity and Peter Rezansoff was able to:
- Obtain donations of two (2) truckloads of cement. In his negotiations with Concrete Suppliers to supply concrete for his high rise buildings, some 50,000 cubic meters or more of concrete would be required. The Suppliers were very competitive and would consider any edge. Peter calmly suggested that a truckload of cement to his favourite charity might “tip the scale.” And so it happened.
- The same took place with the Drywall, Ceramic Tile, Insulation and other materials which were heavily subsidized by Peter himself
- All the while not admitting that he had orchestrated all…………………….
And so we worked harmoniously together for the benefit of the Retreat and Society in general.
One Saturday, Peter called us in Tswwaassen and suggested we go out to the Hard Rock Cafe for a night out. Yes, we could sleep over after. The Verigins drove down on their Ford pickup but the intent was to dress up for the occasion and take the BMW and parking the pickup. So we prepared ourselves for a wonderful evening and went for a tour of Vancouver prior to the dinner. Suddenly Peter pulled over to the curb and we realized that there was a flashing red light behind him. Peter struts out in his Blazer to accost the Police Officer and demand why he was being stopped. He comes back to advise us that his car insurance had lapsed over 3 months ago and the car could not be moved until insurance was in place. Well we ended up going to the Hard Rock Cafe the old fashioned Doukhobour manner with women in the back and men in the front of a ford pickup.
Peter and I were able to set up a Carpenter Apprenticeship opportunity at Whatshan Lake Retreat using J. Lloyd Crowe High School in Trail with ICBA in Surrey to indenture 25 young men over two years that led many into Gold Seal Carpenter Trade. Peter at ITC came to interview candidates to work at ITC. Peter was treated to one of the Apprentices from Trail, coming to work on a skateboard until Peter was able to train him to be streetwise. Three months later he elbowed Peter at an ITC Roof Top celebration, identifying himself as one now being able to hang doors for ITC. Yes Peter smiled.
On our visit to San Francisco we toured on a special Limousine at night with Peter and Elsie wine toasting all Americans while standing and waving from an open roof.
Marilyn and I had a minor accident just west of Keremeos that caused a section of the rear window in our pickup to fall out. Peter insisted that he accompany me back to the Kootenays for the repair and to visit Slocan Park from Vancouver in this “open air” pickup. We talked about so many things to keep warm that winter night.
One evening after an ICBA Meeting, many members gathered in Marilyn’s and my room for a social. A member known to me but had yet to meet Peter, introduced himself and advised that he was ‘Elmer’s friend’. Peter immediately made him feel at ease and answered “any friend of Elmer’s is also a friend of mine.” That made me smile.
When my construction company was successful in tendering on two major projects, Peter would call and congratulate. He would also suggest that his crews were expert at concrete construction and needed work. What was interesting that Peter’s staff would do an estimate and that would result in their comparable takeoff being within $2,000 of mine. So sharing projects on the Lower Mainland was routine for Peter and I.
Peter enjoyed teaching Elmer how to make wine from the abundant Blackberries in Tsswwassen despite Elsie’s warnings that he should change his dress clothes in the advent of an accident. Peter was sure that he would be very professionally careful and spillage was out of the question. Elsie was correct in each instance.
Peter and I would get into “deep” conversation on “Spirit Travel”. I was treated to his personal experience in that regard. He is likely enjoying that now as I speak.
Peter shared his personal need to forgive someone who had performed a very serious “wrong” to him. He explained that it took a great deal of courage for Peter to go and forgive that person. In so doing he purged himself so that he would eradicate blame and hate from his own mind. This assisted in making him “whole” again. He suggested that I do the same in my one incident that bothers me to this day. Peter I will keep my promise to you and I will forgive that person.
I heard about Pete’s “Picking Fruit in the Okanagan” trips when he would hitch a ride to the Okanagan from Crescent Valley as a very young teenager. One year he earned enough money to return with a car.
Vergins and Rezansoffs travelled around the Lower Mainland researching Seniors Homes. This benefited us when we developed them as a society
Peter was very influential in the construction of one of those seniors projects, White Birch Manor on the corner of Scott Road and 80th Avenue. The result was a gathering place for the Lower Mainland Doukhobour group in its activities. I believe that Peter and his family are still involved to this day.
As with the Seniors Homes, we also researched Retreats which assisted greatly in the designs for the Whatshan Lake Retreat. One time in Washington State, Peter decided to take us to a favorite restaurant frequently by his former employer. We were not sure that we had found the correct place but Peter convinced the Owner it was. We got treated to a bottle of wine while we waited but Marilyn was not drinking and Peter was driving so Elsie and I were tasked to do the job. Then the staff forgot about us waiting in this separate room and were very apologetic. Yes, Elsie and Elmer had to drink the second bottle of wine as well. Peter nicknamed us “The Wineos”.
Just about every year except the recent Covid years, we toured the Okanagan Wineries with Popoffs, Verigins, Podmaroffs and Rezansoffs and would be honored to stay at The Cove, a condo owned by ITC who had constructed that development. Great social occasions.
Napa Valley Wineries were also toured North of San Francisco by Popoffs, Verigins and Rezansoffs. You might say we became professional international wine-tasters.
During our early friendship, Peter asked to tour my project at Expo ’86 with the 29 International Pavilions. I in turn requested to tour one of his highrises. It is natural for an Engineer to steal a line of sight down the 26 stories of sundecks. I found perfect alignment. The formwork in the parking garages was absolutely intricately finished. I realized what a perfectionist Peter was and the reason for his preferential selection as General Contractor by so many Owners.
At the top end of Granville Street some Homeless people moved in to an abandoned building. There were no operating washrooms and no heat. The situation was grim and so Peter decided to help out. He installed essential services and heated a portion of the building. He essentially made the building livable. He brought food and provided a way for these people to feed themselves. The City went in and evicted the people and shut the place down without any discussion with Peter. Obviously this was very disappointing for Peter.
On an another occasion, he looked out of his condo to the Turnaround on Howe Street below his sundeck and noticed a man and woman, preparing to spend the night on the benches located there. Peter told Elsie that he would go down and talk to them as he did not feel right that these people had to suffer so. After discussion, he was informed that they were a mother and son from the Maritimes and that they lived in the Street. They were convinced that “God would provide”. He offered them hotel accommodation up the street and meals, He discovered the young man had a drywall trade and told him to come down next morning to his office and he would find him a job. They promised to consider this but by the time he reached Elsie back at his Condo, the people just disappeared and he never saw them again.
Peter was a giving person and some of these incidents where his help was refused made him feel bad.
I have provided many examples of Peter in the way I knew him.
Peter and I would call each other every three weeks or so, and spent at least an hour reviewing our mutual philosophies. I will miss those phone calls but if I should get another call, I will stay connected for whatever time it may take.
Peter, you have been a great friend and my memory will stay true.
You have attended at the top board rooms in your life but you were always not far from your roots. Welcome home!
Delivered at Krestova, B.C.,, Gravesite 2:00 P.M., Saturday, May 22, 2021
Completed blog entries May 28, 2021
Thank you Lorraine for your Dad’s photograph