Those who knew him say he was a mentor, an ambassador for the Island and just an all-around good guy.
Norman Peters, better known as the Bearded Skipper who ran a fishing charter out of North Rustico for decades, died Monday on his 76th birthday.
“Norman was the real deal; he was a real class act; a great ambassador to the fishery and he was always there to lend a helping hand to anybody that needed him in regards to the fishery. I feel bad about it,’’ said Bobby Jenkins, president of the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association (PEIFA).
While Peters was never president of the PEIFA, he held numerous roles within the organization, including secretary, vice-president and treasurer, and served on a variety of committees. He was also president of the North Shore Fishermen’s Association for more than 20 years.
Jenkins said Peters left an indelible impression on everyone he came in contact with on his charter tours.
“I took people from Florida up to Rustico 10 years ago, and those people contacted me periodically afterwards and the first thing they ask me was, ‘How is Norman doing?’ He had the uncanny ability to make everybody feel important on his boat.’’
Jenkins remembers being at the Boston Seafood Show in 2012 and not being able to get near Peters because of all the people around him.
“I got some guidance from him and some direction down through the years and I valued his friendship more than anything else. He was a real humanitarian,’’ Jenkins said.
Some facts about Norman Peters:
- Long-time member of the board of directors of the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association and the North Rustico Harbour Authority
- Was active in his church and community as a member of the Stella Maris church property and finance committee
- Long-time Eucharistic minister
- Supporter of QEH Telethon
Malpeque MP Wayne Easter said Peters would never hesitate to call him if there was a problem with the wharf in North Rustico that needed to be addressed.
“He was the presence of what people think a fisherman is and he played the part,’’ Easter said. “He was the heart of the community in North Rustico in so many ways. He was always on top of you over a problem with the wharf. I wouldn’t want to guess how many times I went out over the years and walked the wharf with Norman, looked under it, (and he’d say) ‘the beams are bad down there, Wayne’.’’
Former PEIFA president Mike McGeoghegan, who knew Peters for more than 30 years, said Peters was treated like a rock star at international seafood shows.
McGeoghegan recalls one show in China where they had full-size pop-up pictures of Peters, “like cutouts you would use (for) a rock star.’’
“He was a really good guy, had a good heart, a good heart for the industry, a real promoter of Prince Edward Island and the fishery and he had a real good nature about him. He was always in a good mood and he could tell stories to beat the band.’’
Mike’s son, Charlie, also a fisherman, recalls how big a hit Peters was at the fish shows.
“There would be 200 people at a time want to get their picture taken with him and get him to sign stuff,’’ Charlie McGeoghegan said.
North Rustico Mayor Anne Kirk described Peters as a “gentleman’s gentleman’’.
“I grew up next door to him, and no matter what you asked him to do he was just an all-around good person; kind and gentle. He’s going to be missed in the community,’’ Kirk said.
The mayor added one of Peters biggest accomplishments was getting the fisheries museum up and running.
“He was very instrumental with that,’’ she said. “He used his name to help promote it and promote the town.’’
Peters is survived by his wife of 47 years, Marie (Cullen) Peters; son, Corey (Tammy) Peters, St. Patrick’s and daughter, Colleen (Dr. Aaron) Sibley, Stratford.
He is resting at Central Queen’s Funeral Home in New Glasgow for visitation on Thursday, 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Funeral mass will be celebrated at Stella Maris Roman Catholic Church in North Rustico on Friday at 10:30 a.m.