PETERSON, ROY ERIC, O.C.
September 14, 1936 - September 30, 2013
Canadian and U.S. editorial cartoonists capture the outlandish aspects of our society and its culpable culprits with devastating visual effect. However, sometimes the visual masterpiece must be augmented with words. The depth of our dad's contribution to the compelling world of journalism is profound and must be expressed with our words of gratitude and reverence. Editorial cartoonists and journalists call Roy Peterson an icon; we call Roy Peterson our dad.
Dad suffered a sudden heart attack at our family home and died at St. Paul's Hospital, early Monday, September 30th, despite the collective efforts of our older brother Laurie and the medical staff at St Paul's.
The many spontaneous emails about our father's passing compiled for our family by Peggy MacKinnon, wife of editorial cartoonist Bruce MacKinnon of the Halifax Chronicle Herald, collectively acknowledge Dad's many professional successes and remarkable generosity of spirit. These include his 47 years of accomplishment with The Vancouver Sun for which he won eight National Newspaper Awards – the most garnered by any recipient in any category. In addition, he illustrated for Allan Fotheringham's back page column in Maclean's Magazine in a noteworthy 27 year partnership. Bruce MacKinnon noted that Dad "was the embodiment of class and dignity. He was warm and approachable, kind and generous. He was soft-spoken, had a brilliant wit and a pen that could cut through anything. He will always be missed."
Bob Krieger, formerly of The Vancouver Province, noted that Roy dispensed selfless, sage advice to any young editorial cartoonist who needed both a skill-check and an encouraging word: "I was one of dozens of those people who gratefully received both," stated Krieger. "There are a lot massive egos in the cartoonist community. Roy's body of work should have resulted in a huge ego boost. But such a grandiose and grating trait simply was not in his make-up. Whatever ego he had, had never surfaced."
Douglas Todd of The Sun added that Peterson cartoons had deflated a host of leading politicos, "from W.A.C. Bennett to Gordon Campbell, Richard Nixon to George W. Bush, Indira Gandhi to Vladimir Putin, Pierre Trudeau to Stephen Harper, and Muslim fundamentalists to con artist investment bank CEO's." Our brother Geoff, once asked Dad why he made it his mission to take on powerful politicians. "I'm fighting for what I think is right with pen and ink," responded Dad. "My three brothers, your late uncles Warren, Lawrence and Sidney, fought their fight in the RCAF during World War II. Big difference-Lawrence died in his fighter plane and Sidney in his Halifax bomber." When Dad learned that Sidney's downed aircraft was submerged in a clay bed near the town of Hank in the Netherlands, he led a determined campaign to have the plane recovered so that his brother and crewmates would receive a proper military burial. This finally happened in 2006.
In January 2003 Dad's life-mate, Margaret, died of cancer. Mom had transformed our home into a cocoon of creativity which enabled Dad to produce his famous Sun and Foth- Maclean's cartoons. Mom was the unsung hero who worked tirelessly behind the scenes and Dad always knew and respected that she was instrumental in his success.
Dad always made time for his family and Christmas was particularly memorable for us. Dad even made some of our cherished Christmas tree decorations (pictured above). It was never a surprise that our Christmas Eve party was attended by many family members and friends.
In 2004, the year after Mom died, Dad took us to Ottawa, where he was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada (right, above). Afterward, we commented that we wished Mom were there. "She was," said Dad. "I have her picture in the breast pocket of my shirt and it was facing out. When Governor General Adrienne Clarkson put that medal around my neck, your mom was the first to see it."
Dad has now ascended into the placid beauty of what he referred to as "Blue Skies," which became his personal correspondence sign-off.
"Blue Skies" yourself, Dad. You and Mom are now together forever.
A Celebration of Roy Peterson's life will be held between 2:00 – 4:00 pm, Friday, October 11th, 2013 at Hollyburn Country Club, 950 Crosscreek Road, West Vancouver, BC.
Your hosts, Clan Peterson: Laurie, Gillian, Lisa, Karen and Geoff; Roy's brother Clive (Mary) and nine grandchildren: Shelby, Tyler, Chelsea, Eric, Delainey, Brayden, Kyle, Madison and Mikayla.
Published in Vancouver Sun and/or The Province from Oct. 5 to Oct. 6, 2013.