Peter E. Van de Water of Canton died peacefully at home Wednesday April 30, 2014 after three years of living bravely with amyloidosis, a fatal blood disease.
He was born January 11, 1937 the son of John W. Van de Water and Sarah L. Van de Water. He graduated from Hartford, NY Central School where he excelled academically and athletically. At St. Lawrence University he was a student leader and baseball captain graduating in 1958. A year later he married his college sweetheart Elizabeth “Becky” Blaisdell.
He received a Masters degree from Cornell, worked as Assistant Dean of Students at SUNY Cortland and returned to Canton in 1962 for a long career at St. Lawrence University as Director of Student Activities, Financial Aid, Admissions and Vice President of Student Affairs. He also earned a Ph.D from the University of Michigan. In 1984 Peter served as Headmaster of Vermont Academy, taught history and coached soccer, basketball and tennis.
Returning to Canton in 1988, Peter and Becky sold Christmas trees, raised sheep, apples and blueberries and started a bed and breakfast. With their friends Roger and Helen Hutchinson they produced maple syrup at their Pierrepont sugarbush. In “retirement” Peter continued to be active in his church and at St. Lawrence University in the Education Department as a supervising teacher and in starting the Outdoor Program at the college. He ran for the NY State Assembly in 1990, wrote articles about the North Country and fought to preserve the environment as chair of Citizens to Save the Adirondack Park and the Coalition on Low Altitude Flights.
Peter loved the outdoors as a gardener, woodsman, canoeist, runner and hiker. He was a founder of the popular summer and winter Stillman Foote running races, an Adirondack 46'r and at home around Cranberry Lake for over 50 years. In recent years he led the Canton Community Action Plan and founded, with friend Varick Chittenden, Grasse River Heritage. He was active in the Canton Rotary Club for over 20 years and initiated the Canton Community Fund and represented St. Lawrence County on the Northern New York Community Foundation. He was on the board of both the St. Lawrence County Historical Association and the Canton-Potsdam Hospital Foundation which he chaired.
Above all, Peter Van de Water had a great love of his family and friends. He is survived by his wife Becky of Canton; children, Thomas B. (and Betsy Kepes) of Pierrepont, Katherine L. (and Bill Brown) of Canton and Beth Van de Water (and Rich Clements) of Saratoga; his mother Sarah L. Van de Water of Canton; sister Jean V. Williams of Cicero; brother John G. Van de Water of Corvallis, Oregon and brother Gordon B. Van de Water of Denver and his six grandchildren.
A celebration of Peter's life will be held on May 10th at 2PM at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Canton. Memorial contributions may be made to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Canton or Hospice of the St. Lawrence Valley.
The Lawrence Funeral Home, Canton, is in charge of arrangements.
Sunday, May 24, 2015, Watertown, NY
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