Peckham lived an extraordinary life

Even a full front page story in Friday's Citizen on the life of Wilf Peckham simply wasn't enough to capture the man.

Peckham, 94, died on March 2. As the story by Arthur Williams noted, Peckham was a curling legend. He played in 68 consecutive Kelly Cup men's curling tournaments, winning it three times. In his last victory in 1981, he was the third for Ted Moffat. The team they beat in the championship final was skipped by Peckham's son, Gerry.

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Peckham's name first showed up in the pages of The Citizen on April 12, 1945.

In the "Local Happenings" column on page 8, this dispatch appeared: "Signmn. Wilf Peckham, son of Mr. and Mrs. W.J. Peckham of South Fort George, in a letter to the Hon. Harry G. Perry, minister of education, expressing thanks for cigarettes received overseas, comments on the 'quite a few new businesses in Prince George now,' as indicted in issues of The Citizen. He states the papers 'have been coming over in quite good time.' The letter was written from Holland."

Once Peckham returned from his wartime duties in Europe, he became a fixture in Prince George. From then until now, his name appeared in The Citizen nearly 300 times, many of those occasions because of his accomplishments as a curler, both as a player and as a coach. In 2001, he played on a three-generation team of Peckhams at the Kelly Cup, with his son Gerry and his grandson Jayde.

What a proud moment that must have been in a long and incredible life filled with so many memories and accomplishments. Peckham wasn't just newsworthy for his exploits on the ice, either.

He worked at The Citizen for 40 years. When The Citizen's printers unionized in 1958, it was Peckham, the president of the local, who signed the first contract on behalf of his fellow workers.

His name also constantly appeared in The Citizen for his work with the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, an organization he tirelessly supported until his dying day. As he told the Citizen in 2016, he helped sell poppies every year but one since returning from the front. After his funeral service on March 17 at 1 p.m. at the Civic Centre, the Legion will host a celebration of life reception in his honour.

While in uniform, Peckham served in France after D-Day. In recognition of that service, he received the French Lgion d'Honneur medal in 2014 to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Normandy.

As if all of that wasn't enough, he even helped put a killer behind bars. In March of 1995, Peckham found himself in court, a Crown witness in a first-degree murder case. While out cross-country skiing with his wife Mae west of Foothills Boulevard on Dec. 11, 1989, he found tracks that led to a human jawbone. That discovery led to the conviction of Brian Peter Arp for killing Marnie Blanchard and Therese Umphrey. Blanchard, 18, had been last seen on Nov. 22, 1989, three weeks before the Peckhams discovered her remains.

An extraordinary tale in an already extraordinary life.

Prince George is so blessed to have had someone like him in our midst and we should celebrate our good fortune. Our sadness is we'll never see the likes of him again. He will be deeply missed.

-- Editor-in-chief Neil Godbout

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