Jack Peters’ Life Story - Rotary speaker March 28

 

Jack Peters’ Life Story   
President Shane, Fellow Rotarians and Guests,                                                
I hope you will enjoy this story of my life, which is sometimes happy, sad or funny.

I was born October 14, 1934, in Osler, Saskatchewan, on our mixed farm 20 miles north of Saskatoon.  The CN Railway ran between our two quarters of land.  This line went from Saskatoon to Prince Albert. The railroad was always a source of excitement for our family of ten, four boys and six girls and I was number six in the lineage.

The ancestors of both my Mennonite parents, Henry Peters and Elizabeth Wiens originally came from Holland in the 1600’s.  They lived and migrated through Germany which was then Prussia, then moved to Ukraine for 80 years.  In 1874, they migrated to Manitoba and in 1896 they came to Saskatchewan.

On our parents’ Saskatchewan farm, our childhood friends occasionally came over after school or on weekends.  There was play then but our chores always came first. 

 

During World War II, the Canadian Federal Government built a large airport for training pilots just a mile from our farm.  The planes would circle overhead which lasted five years.

On April Fools’ Day one year, on my way back to school, I set out to pull a prank on the Coop Store Manager.  I would often go shopping for groceries for Mom and the store manager liked to tease me.  It was now my turn to get even.  I had gathered up about 10 popular items while he itemized in my Mom and Dad’s Charge Book.  “April Fools”, I hollered, and ran out of the door on my way to school.  He was right behind me, but could not catch me. 

 

In 1950, our parents decided that we would rent out the farm and move to Quesnel, BC.  It was a great trip through Jasper and the Rocky Mountains.   It wasn’t long before we enjoyed our new home.  I got a job working in a plywood factory at $1.10 per hour with a 44-hour week.  Then a year later, I became a lift truck operator at $1.69 per hour. 

In October 1954, I went to a dance.  It was here that I saw this pretty young chick and I asked her for a dance.  She accepted and romance bloomed.  Betty and I went steady except for a brief breakup after my moving away but it was followed by reconciliation in Quesnel.   We started making wedding plans for December 29, 1955 in Quesnel and so she became my tax exemption bride. 

After a brief honeymoon we settled in Grande Prairie, where I started a new job with Lloyds Tire.  Then, I transferred to Grimshaw, mile “0” on the McKenzie Highway as Area Manager for Dunlop Canada Ltd. in 1962.  Dunlop asked us to transfer south to the beautiful city of Lethbridge as Branch/Area Manager.  Then Dunlop asked me to take over their largest location and sales area in Calgary.

Betty and I went to Expo ’67 in Montreal for six days and then took a train to Quebec City.  We now had a new appreciation for our great country and our new flag.  In the spring of 1968, we packed up our car and went to the Okanagan looking to relocate to start our own tire distribution centre.  We moved to Vernon, September 1, 1968, to start our own business.   My brother, Alf, Betty and I became equal partners.  We set up shop next to the former NOCA Dairy and so “Peters Tirecraft” was born. 

Dunlop offered us their line of Remington tire products on a factory direct basis which made us very competitive.   In 1973 we purchased commercial property and had the new tire store built on the current prime location on 27th Street.I spent four years as a Director of Western Canadian Tire Dealers Association. In 1978, my brother, Alf, found the pressure of business and family too much so we came to an agreement to buy him out. 

I had been in the Vernon Rotary Club for six year when I asked to serve as the Club President 1982/83. As a member of the Rotary Club of Vernon, I was asked to be the Special Representative to form a new Rotary Club in Armstrong.  It was chartered in February 1979.

In 1980, we doubled our Peters Tirecraft warehouse space to accommodate our growing wholesale net work of 250 dealers and 7 Tirecraft stores.  Firestone and Dayton came to us with an exclusive factory direct distributorship which we were glad to have.

I had two opportunities during the 1980’s to reassess my life during my hospital stays for major surgery.Times were tough in the mid-1980s with 18 to 19% interest rates.  We continued to grow, but at a slower pace.  Our “Crowning Achievement” was our three daughters who gave Betty and me real pleasure and made us proud.   I walked each one of them down the aisle, first Sheila, then Sharon and then Sandra.

After 34 years in the tire and battery business, Betty and I decided after a great deal of contemplation that we should sell the business we had nurtured for 21 years.  We closed the deal in November 1988.

I was nominated to become the Rotary District Governor for 1990/91.  Our district had 50 clubs.  While I was preparing to be District Governor, Operation Eyesight Universal offered six of us incoming District Governors to go to India to visit hospitals and eye camps.   We witnessed long lineups at eye camps, cataract removals, lens implants, glaucoma and infection treatments.
On my return from India, Betty and I travelled to many training meetings in Canada, the USA and the R. I. Convention in Seoul, Korea.  Then our group of six couples went to visit Hong Kong and Thailand. 

Our District 5060 did not have a cairn or marker at the Canada/US border.  Omak and Oliver clubs coordinated the work.  We now have a cairn just across the 49th parallel at Osoyoos/Orville. 

We completed many local community projects and promoted Preserve Planet Earth projects and vocational service.  Betty and I had a wonderful opportunity to serve our fellowman. 

In 1992, I became Chairman of the Rotary President Elect Training Seminar.  Then, I was asked if I would go to Ternopol, Ukraine, to start a new Rotary Club, so they would learn about Rotary’s business ethics and to provide community service.  In September 1994, our group went to Ukraine for three weeks to start a new club and I spent many hours teaching them about Rotary.  We shipped them 2 ½ containers of used goods, computer books, toys, clothing, medical equipment and medical supplies.  We also brought one of their university students over to study Business Administration for one year. 

In 1995, Rotary International asked Betty and me to represent the RI President at the 3-day District Conference in Fort Dodge, Iowa. 

My community service included 3 years on the Board of the North Okanagan Community Foundation. 

People ask “Are you retired, Jack?” and I say, “Well, sort of.”   Our family and five grand-children plus three great grand-children need our love and attention.  The fund raisers and projects keep needing help and I’ve chaired seven of them in the last 20 years.  I’m on several committees with Rotary and 6 years on the Quail Run Strata Council.  I finished 3 years on the Upper Room Mission Board as Chairman.  I like curling and golfing, going south for a holiday.  To relax, I like listening to country, light classical and gospel music. 

I would like to thank my teammate, Betty, for standing by me for almost 57 years now.  The joy and pleasure of serving is ours. 

Thank you for listening.

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