Oct. 10, 1917- Feb. 25, 2011
Peter died peacefully at Chilliwack General Hospital with his wife, Pat, at his side. He is survived by Pat, daughters Paige, Dorrance and Jane (Ted Hancock) and son Peter (Suzanne Tokarek), as well as grandchildren Zöe and Aaron Nagler, Devon and Ellen Hancock and Mark and Patrick Woodward. He was predeceased by his brother, Geoff Woodward, and his sister, Shirley Woodward Grauer Owen. A family celebration of his very full life will be held this summer.
Peter was born in Winnipeg, but his family moved to Vancouver in 1922 when his father, a grain trader, built one of the first elevators on the west coast of Canada. Peter dropped out of UBC to become a newspaper reporter. In World War Two, he worked in US Army intelligence, analyzing aerial photographs of German POW camps and deciphering coded mail from Allied prisoners.
At the end of the war, he returned to Vancouver and went to work at the B.C. Electric Co., the province’s privately held electric utility. There he met Patricia Dorrance, and they married on Aug. 16, 1947, Pat’s 21st birthday. They immediately moved to Manhattan because Pat had won a job as a junior editor at Vogue magazine. Peter became an editor at McGraw-Hill.
In 1949, he returned to work at the B.C. Electric, and eventually rose to become head of public relations for the firm. With his family reestablished in Vancouver, Peter enjoyed his work and was devoted to his brother-in-law, Dal Grauer, who was probably the most brilliant business leader in the province at the time.
In 1961, Dal died of leukemia and on the day of his funeral the W.A.C. Bennett government took over the B.C. Electric, turning it into B.C. Hydro, a Crown corporation. Having had a hand in the fight against the takeover, Peter resigned from the company.
He moved his family to Chilliwack in 1963, where he became managing partner of Cheam Marl Products, which operated a surface mine for marl (agricultural lime) at Popkum. A few years later, he placed the company in the capable hands of his administrative assistant, Jo Murray, and became general manager of the B.C. Safety Council. (Eventually the mine site became Cheam Wetlands Park.)
In the mid-1970s, Peter retired and with Pat homesteaded a property on Chilliwack Mountain, which she called Hillkeep. Although he insisted that he was “a city sparrow,” Peter learned to drive tractors and maintain water pumps and electric generators, because Hillkeep was for decades “off the grid.” A competent carpenter in his day, he could be coaxed from time to time into making Japanese-style lanterns and other handy objects. At all times he was a lover of dogs, greatly enjoying the company of several generations of Labrador Retrievers.
Peter loved reading history and could talk politics to all comers. He was a natural conservative in most matters, while all the women in the family were progressive. For years there were very few dull moments, but as he aged he mellowed, listening to classical music and rereading his compendious collection of books.
Through difficult and happy times, Peter always loved Pat, his children and grandchildren, and he will always be remembered and loved by them.