Peter Brask

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Peter Brask (born Anthony Brask) was born December 22, 1937 to Antoinette (White) Brask and Yngve (“Henry”) Brask.  Antoinette (“Tony” as she was called by friends) was a librarian, and Henry was an engineer.  Peter had an older sister, Judy, born in 1931.

Peter’s parents were gardeners, birdwatchers, and enjoyed mushroom-picking and bridge.  Most of all they enjoyed hiking and climbing, and climbed many mountains in New Hampshire, Sweden, Norway and elsewhere.  They took a number of wonderful trips to Italy, France and Portugal.  They lived in Lexington, Massachusetts for many years, where Peter and Judy were raised, before moving to Lincoln, Massachusetts.

Peter met Margaret Cornell in Colorado.  She worked at Loveland Pass Bar and Grill, and it is likely they met there or in a ski lodge in the area.  They married in December of 1964, and in December of 1965 they had a daughter, Gretchen. They divorced shortly after.

When young, Peter was in the Merchant Marines for a time (where, among other things, he learned to tie beautiful, complex knots which, along with twenty or thirty stamps of various denominations, often showed up on packages sent around Christmas-time).

Peter shared a love or many of his parents’ interests (particularly climbing, including mountains in India, and Mt. Fuji in Japan), and pursued many of those interests throughout his life.  Hewas a lover of nature.  He spent lots of time birdwatching, leading walks and had many notebooks describing the birds he had seen.  In his later years he cleared trails, cut and sold Christmas trees, did landscaping and odd jobs, and was attentive and helpful to everyone, in whatever way needed by neighbors and friends.

He chose to sleep outside, even when it snowed, in an open-doored shed.  He loved the wildlife he saw, often from his bed.  He would feed the birds before he fed himself, and had wild rabbits that seemed tame, in his yard.  He would not kill anything—and taught his daughter that if you were still, the bees and butterflies would land on you and sit peacefully—and the same was true for the nuthatches and chickadees (if you had black oil seed in your hand).  All the animals felt safe in his presence.  The doors to his house were always open, literally, and most summers a bird or two would make a nest in his kitchen on his bookshelves.  He would let it be and marvel when the babies would fledge in his kitchen and fly out the door.  He loved his garden and all the beautiful flowers he planted both in his own yard and those of others. Beautiful colors everywhere.  He was also a talented artist and loved music.

For a period of about 10 years, from the time his daughter was around 5, she would travel to Boston, and spend two weeks with Peter’s folks, who had a lake home (“Ferncroft”) on Lower Beach Pond in Tuftonboro, New Hampshire.  Often Peter would come from Batesville, Virginia, and sometimes his sister, Judy, would come from San Francisco.  Peter’s cousins and other family members would visit as well, and one of Peter’s cousins (Phil) had a cabin very near and he and his sister (Cleverly) were often at the lake at the same time.  There was always mushroom hunting, fishing off the dock, the Boston Pops and Masterpiece Theatre, driving to farm stands for fresh corn, and lots of swimming – and always, without fail, afternoon tea with crackers and cheese, accompanied by classical music, needlepoint or knitting (for the ladies), card games, and mountain climbing (often combined with blueberry picking).   These were lovely summer weeks for all.

Peter lived in Batesville, Virginia, in the beautiful area of Miran Forest, surrounded by like-minded, peaceful, good friends for the last 40 or so years of his life.  In later years he, and his community, cared for his sister, Judy, as her health failed.

On Wednesday September 5th Peter was admitted to Martha Jefferson Hospital with complications following a recent surgery, and danced from this world that evening. Friends will long remember his joyful, generous presence, not only on the dance floor but among the birding community, on Miran Forest trails, hosting Easter and Thanksgiving circles in his garden, and in so many other ways in which his life touched us all.  He is survived by his daughter, many cousins, and many good friends.

Contributions in his memory may be made to the World Wildlife Fund.

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