Peabody, MA — Peter Smyrnios died on Sunday, January 5, 2014, at the age of 94 years, 9 months, and 27 days. He was a beloved husband, father, stepfather, grandfather, friend, and mentor. A decorated veteran of World War II, Pete fought in the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, and Normandy, as well as in the Battle of the Bulge; he escaped from a POW camp, and survived an exchange of hand grenades with a German soldier. Late in the war, he was reported dead to his parents, who only discovered otherwise when his mother saw him, like an apparition, walking up the driveway to the family home.
Pete was a master carpenter, cabinet maker, contractor, and construction foreman. He was insatiably curious, indefatigable, and passionate about anything that he did – whether making (and drinking) wine and beer, raising rabbits, reading cookbooks, woodcarving, or traveling with his wife, Katherine, to Greece, Turkey, Egypt, the Caribbean, Japan, Canada, and across the United States. He loved his small farm and, in later years, his garden. He cooked for his family every day, up to the day before he died.
Pete taught us many things, especially how to meet each day with anticipation and gratitude. He taught us about courage, hard work, persistence and resilience. He taught us, by his example, how a man should love and cherish and care for his bride.
Pete showed us how to live a life to the fullest. He was Zorba in the flesh. “Like a lion,” he would say, when asked how he was (even while recovering from triple bypass surgery at age 91). “Good luck, Pete,” he would always toast, smiling, and sometimes add, “I’m one in a million.” Nobody who knew him would ever disagree.
It is not enough to say that his passing leaves a void. A force of nature has been stilled, and only in the now quiet aftermath will we come to fully apprehend the enormity of his presence in our lives.