MAPLE RIDGE, B.C. – At 82 years of age, Peter Vandergugten passes away after his fourth battle with Cancer.
Steve Thorlakson was a good friend and longtime associate to Vandergugten, they were introduced to each other in 1979 by a mutual friend when Thorlakson first moved to the area. Thorlakson remembers Vandergugten from Council, hunting and “Hoisting a cold one at the Legion”
Thorlakson shares “We worked on many projects together. First was Chamber of Commerce which was in deep debt, Peter ran and was elected as President and I became Vice President within a year,” Thorlakson says they managed to pull the Chamber out of debt and triple the membership in approx 1984/85, he says things were really tough in those days and times and it was quite an accomplishment. “Pulling the Chamber together was an effective lobbying force on behalf of business in the area.”
Thorlakson says their best times spent together were hunting, “Peter loved hunting” he said and they would often hunt together. Thorlakson recalls that Vandergugten helped with “flushing out his son’s first deer, off the Old Fort Road.” “During those times we could turn off all of the thoughts of politics and problems and you could actually laugh about some of the funny stories, laughter is truly the best medicine.”
“You never had to wonder where Peter stood on any issue, he was a strong personality and there were times when we fought like cats and dogs but we remained best friends,” says Thorlakson.
Vandergugten tried running for Mayor in approx 1982/84 against Brian Palmer shared Thorlakson and then they both became Aldermen in 1986 serving on City Council for 19 years.”We saw a lot of change and led a lot of chance together which was deeply needed at the times as the City was fundamentally insolvent.”
Thorlakson would go on to say, “Peter was one of the toughest guys I ever knew, he fought four battles with cancer and his mental toughness, determination and will power is what led him to beat the first three battles. Peter’s determination was the hallmark of his life, he was a stubborn Dutchman that at times you didn’t like but most of the time you loved”