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AIME R. (PETE) ADAM Peacefully and with dignity, at the age of 95, Aimé Rawleigh (Pete) Adam completed his life's journey on January 7, 2009, in Dauphin, Manitoba. Left to cherish his memory are his devoted and beloved wife of 71 years, Mary (née Didychuk) and daughters, Doreen Balchen (Bruce), Lorraine Adam, Marie Adam (Glenn MacDonell) and Karen Dreveski (John). There are seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. His sister Lucille Stoppel also survives him. Also left to mourn him is close family friend, Wesley Saari. His parents, Lionel and Marcella Adam; his brothers, René, Romeo, and Carl and infant sister Marie predeceased Pete. Pete lived a full and accomplished life. He was born in Radville, Saskatchewan on December 5, 1913. He was rather small for his age and, being that French was spoken at home, his mother often referred to him as petit . Eventually this evolved into the nickname Pete . Shortly thereafter, Pete's family moved to Manitoba, first to Toutes Aides, and later to Crane River. The family business there involved commercial fishing, fur trading, a general store, post office and tourist operations. There, Pete gained his acumen for business, developed a deep appreciation and respect for nature, and formed lifelong bonds with the people of the Ochichakkosipi First Nation. The latter experiences were the foundation that led Pete to form many friendships and acquaintances amongst the Aboriginal and Métis communities in the surrounding area. Throughout his life he was an advocate for the inherent rights of Aboriginal peoples. When Pete was 22, two important events happened in his life. The first, he voted for the first time for the CCF party in a federal election. Little did he conceive at the time that this would be the first stroke in the development of a political career in later years. The second, and most important event, was his courtship and marriage to Mary Didychuk, who came from a solid farm family near Rorketon. Pete and Mary were married on January 19, 1937 at Toutes Aides. As a young married couple, Pete and Mary moved to Winnipeg where Pete worked for CN Railway. When his father called him home to Crane River to help out, they quickly made the move. He helped out Nick Werbiski at Rorketon in the implement dealership and hotel during the summer. This led, in 1949, to Pete establishing an International Harvester Implement Dealership in Ste. Rose du Lac with his brother Romeo. During this period Pete was an active member of the Ste. Rose Lions Club. He was an avid sportsman and loved hunting and fishing, often with his lifelong friend Hank Knippleberg. A treasured memory was a special pheasant-hunting trip in Brooks, Alberta, with Hank. Pete enjoyed curling too and attended many bonspiels. The implement dealership went through good and bad times, as did farming itself. Interest in the conditions for farmers emerged at this time, with Pete being an early supporter of co-operatives and the National Farmers Union. He was president of Local 509 of the National Farmers Union. During his term as president, he consolidated the Local and attracted over 300 new members. In 1961, Pete bought a farm outside Ochre River, and started farming and ranching in earnest. Later, Pete and Mary expanded the implement business to their farm, using the land to demonstrate farm equipment. In 1969, the New Democratic Party of Manitoba approached Pete to stand as a candidate in the 1971 by-election for the Ste. Rose constituency. The people of the constituency chose Pete as their representative in the Legislature, and re-elected him in 1973, 1977 and 1981, serving in the governments of Edward Schreyer and Howard Pawley. In 1981, he was appointed Minister of Municipal Affairs and Minister of Cooperative Development, and later, in 1983, Minister of Government Services. His proudest achievement while Minister of Municipal Affairs was the creation and implementation of the Mainstreet Manitoba Program, which benefitted so many communities in rural Manitoba. This program was so popular it earned him the nickname Mainstreet Pete . As well, he was remarkably successful in promoting the building of personal care facilities in his constituency. Pete, with Mary by his side, travelled extensively in service to his constituency; he was constantly in contact with his constituents over the many years he served them. When Pete and Mary retired, and moved to Dauphin, Manitoba, they sold their farm to Raymond and Jeanette Janssen. In all his dealings, Pete was honest and fair. If he gave his word and a handshake, it was his bond and could be relied upon. He had a keen intellect and a searching, active mind. He always sought to identify and understand the forces and motivations that were the underpinnings of whatever circumstance or event he encountered. It was primarily this inherent talent that ensured his success both in private business and in public affairs. Furthermore his inquiring nature compensated for the minimal formal education that he had been able to acquire in his youth. To any other man such a lost opportunity might have been a grave disadvantage, but for Pete merely freed his time to pursue practical life experience and to think deeply on the issues of the day. Pete had a wry sense of humour, which he expressed readily amongst family, friends and acquaintances through clever anecdotes and yarns. He was an accomplished storyteller and could keep an audience round a kitchen table engrossed for hours! But as well his wit could be cutting, if he thought the other fellow deserved it, and woe betide anyone who thought to debate with Pete in any but a polite and honourable fashion. As a counterpoint to his intellectual capacity, Pete was also in his element with his sleeves rolled up and a wrench, a hammer, a saw or some other tool in his hand. He was an intuitive problem solver, able to fix just about any machine, and if he didn't have the right tool to do the job, he'd make one! Pete cherished his wife Mary and his family of girls, and though, particularly in his younger years, he was only rarely able to lavish luxuries on them, still there were always good food, good company, happy times and fine entertainment in their home. He taught his daughters how to fish for pickerel, how to drive a car, a truck or a boat, and together with their mother he showed them that solidarity within the family is the basis for happiness. He gave his daughters independence to pursue their own interests, and support as they strove to make their dreams reality. Pete enjoyed music and dancing, and at many events, he would often be called upon to demonstrate his skill at dancing the jig. In his later years, he both learned to play the violin, as well as collecting a number of them. He knew the lyrics of many songs and he would often sing them to family members and friends. Pete had strong principles and lived by them - social justice and equality, respect for people and the environment, and acceptance of the diversity in people. He stayed current with Canadian and international politics, and world events, until the end of his life. His family will greatly miss his wisdom, love, and guidance. Cremation and a private family gathering in celebration of his life have taken place. If friends so desire, a donation in his memory may be made to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) or to the Canadian Diabetes Association. Dear Pete, dear Dad, we will miss you deeply. To the world he was one, To us he was the world. After Glow I'd like the memory of me To be a happy one, I'd like to leave an after glow Of smiles when life is done. I'd like to leave an echo Whispering softly down the ways, Of happy times and laughing times And bright and sunny days. I'd like the tears of those who grieve To dry before the sun, Of happy memories that I leave When life is done.
As published in the Winnipeg Free Press on January 24, 2009