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Monday, September 7, 2009

PERSONAL: Peter Tanaka - Gone But Not Forgotten

**** Updated September 9, 2009 at the bottom of the post ****

To say the past couple of weeks have been difficult and sad for many people I know, would be an understatement. This past weekend, we lost a truly great man. A husband, brother, uncle, mentor and father figure, not to mention an outstanding businessman. His dedication to his family, friends and work is to be admired. He was strong, fought hard and continued to make plans until the end.

If you are interested, you can read about his most recent career information here and a bit of additional info here. There are many other things he did during his professional lifetime, but this entry isn't about his career accomplishments, it's just about the man I know as "Uncle Pete".

My cousin Sherri remembered that someone once told her that "every conversation you have with Peter Tanaka is significant". My cousin Andrea said that "he was fantastic, and had a way of making everyone else feel fantastic too".

I think all of us cousins have many many fantastic memories of Uncle Pete growing up. As children we remember how he always sent the most awesome toys....with the batteries almost worn out because he had to always 'test' them out first to make sure they worked properly.

For me, he was not only an Uncle, but also a mentor and father figure when I moved out to Toronto to go to University and lived with he and Aunt Phyllis. He always said "School was a 'garden' and I'd get through it just fine". He's given me an enormous amount of career and professional advice, including that related to starting my own business. I don't know that I would have had the confidence to delve into this venture if it wasn't for his advice and encouragement.

Most of the Japanese cooking I know how to do I learned from Uncle Pete, and my guess is my love for 'gadgets' must come from him as well. ;) When looking for his bluetooth ear piece a few days ago in their house for Aunt Phyllis, I found 3 or 4 that weren't the current one....

Uncle Pete

You may be wondering why pretty much all of the photos are of Uncle Pete with Ben. Yesterday, Ben told me that he hopes he never forgets Uncle Pete. I am so glad that Ben got to know Uncle Pete, even if only for a little over 5 yrs. I am thankful to have these and many other photos of Ben with Uncle Pete, as despite Ben's hope that he never forget, he's only 5, and without these pictures to help secure the memories in his mind, he most likely would forget sooner rather than later.

I could go on for pages and pages, but I'll end it here by saying he left us much too soon.

For those of us who have had the amazing opportunity of knowing, growing up and working with him, Peter Tanaka will never be forgotten.

(Please feel free to leave your memories/comments below. You don't need to sign up to leave comments)

UPDATED TO ADD: If you are trying to find a way to get a message to Phyllis or anyone else in the family, you can click this link to send an e-mail and I will ensure that your message is delivered. Thank you for the kind words that have been sent already.


An obituary will be going into the Globe & Mail tomorrow.
Peter's Celebration of Life Service will be as follows:
September 27, 2009
Vaughan House located on the grounds of Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto

I will post a copy of the obituary on my blog as well once I have a copy.


The Obituary is posted in the Globe & Mail today. I also have posted a copy of it on my blog here. If you've come directly to this post, just click the 'Blog' link at the top of the page and it will refresh and you will see the Obituary post.

-- Lisa P.


Anonymous said...

To Peter's family I send my heart felt thoughts and to share with all of you that Peter will be missed my many.
In Peter I found a mentor, coach and a friend. His uncanny ability to read people and to know exactly when he needed to call or drop by for an inpromtu lunch was remarkable. Talks about current affairs, politics and human nature were always the topics of conversation and his insite and remarkable way of viewing the world taught me more in the past few years about not only those topics of conversation but also about myself. I could not have asked for a better mentor in business and his confidence and trust in my abilities opened up endless possibilities for personal growth.
I am truly thankful for having the honour of working with Peter and the experience will forever have an impact on my life both personally and in my career.
Thank you so much for posting this site and sharing these personal memories, Peter would have had a chuckle at some of the pictures I am sure and in his humble way would of deferred the credit given to him to someone else. Although not physically here his many words of wisdom will always be remembered.

Lisa Piellusch said...

Thank you for leaving your kind message. I will make sure that the family sees it. I don't think that the anonymous feature leaves a spot for you to include your name, so if you wanted to include it but just forgot, please post another comment with it. :)

-- Lisa P.

Anonymous said...

I met Peter many years ago when he drafted me to work on his team with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology as it was known in those days. I think it says a lot about Peter when I think back to that time and realize that although I only worked for him for about a year and a half, we became life-long friends.

I think Peter had an ability to touch the mind, the heart and the soul of every person he came in contact with. He had an ability to make you think about more than the minimum in everything you did and challenged you to rise above the lowest common denominator.

Our discussions over the years ranged from everything through business, personal life, God, and even life and death.

He was, and continues to be, a great friend. I know right down to the very essence of my being, that Peter lives on in the minds, the hearts, and the souls, of every person his life touched. To be certain, the day to day physical interaction with him is no longer here for us to share, but Peter does live on in every one of us who remembers him.

David Lucescu

Lisa Piellusch said...

Thank you David for taking the time to leave a message about Uncle Pete. It was really nice to hear from you. :)

Also, the Anonymous poster above was Carol Ford who works at Comcare.

Anonymous said...


First, let me extend my condolences for your loss. Your 'Uncle Pete' was my 'Peter' (or 'Pete' during less serious moments), a friend, and mentor for almost eight years.

I anticipate that you'll hear many stories about him in the weeks and months to come. In the mean time may I say how sorry I am to have heard of his passing. This is the second time in my life when I have learned the lesson that sooner is better than later when thinking of contacting someone to catch up.

Thank you for taking the time to post your blog about him. I believe your son will be fortunate to have a life time's worth of stories about his uncle.

Best Regards,

Matthew Lister