Peter Wells was a much-loved ski guide for Dolomites Ski Tours for many years. Our family was deeply saddened by his passing in 2015. I was honoured to give one of five eulogies on the occasion of his funeral.
PETER’S EULOGY – Mario Longhitano
Peter would have a chuckle at me being up here making a speech. He knew how much I don’t like doing them. He was good at them and a great writer. He was also good surfer, sailor and skier amongst other things. And I guess a lot of you initially met Peter through one of those activities. But once you had met him you realised how smart he was, confident, friendly with his dry sense of humour.
It was about 25 years ago that Pete and I were checking the surf on a summer afternoon at Mona Vale. Not much was happening surf wise, we were there enjoying the sun on our backs looking at the ocean and chatting. I had started going skiing to the Dolomites Mountains in Italy and was telling him about them. He was at a loose end on what to do that summer, so I suggested he should come and learn to ski. And there was a spare bed in the house we rented.
Next thing Peter was there, surrounded by the mountains and the snow. He enrolled himself into a series of weekly ski lessons, and it seems in a short time he was skiing with us everywhere. He was a natural at it and loved it. That was the start of a long friendship and regular trips to Italy.
He became a great skier and loved being in Italy and the mountains. As Dolomites Ski Tours grew over the years, Peter became a fantastic ski guide. The clients liked being Peter’s groups because they were so much fun. His love and knowledge of Italian food wine and culture rubbed off onto the clients. Also he liked explaining Italian politics, not an easy thing to do. As I said he was smart and also very well read. More years passed and the business grew more, we got busier and Peter was an even greater help to me. Sometimes we had up to 10 – 12 ski guides to co ordinate in busy weeks. We had got to that nice sense of understanding where we both knew what had to be done without much being said. I know he really enjoyed it and took pride in the personal service we gave the clients.
Through all those years, it was his love and pride of Karina that shone through. He was a great father and sometimes Karina was there skiing with us. And I saw how my 3 kids liked being around Peter, he was cheeky, and they loved it. He had this great ability to be friendly to all ages. When my girls were little they gave him the nick name “Curly” because of his long curly hair.
We all know how Peter was never a short back and sides man!
He liked the endearment and he felt, he was special to them.
Others know Peter as a champion sailor, taking on some of the wildest stormy weather seen in ocean races. My experience with Peter sailing was more sedate, but none the less great fun. Six of us had a week in the Whitsundays, where Peter was the skipper and taught us some things about sailing. He was very generous letting us all take the helm for hours.
Then in more recent times on his yacht in Pittwater. He would talk about plans for surf trips to tropical islands, he just made it sound so good. It made you want to keep sailing out to sea past Barrenjoey headland.
Peter moved to the South Coast and there he made a whole bunch of new friends. He showed what a great craftsman he was with his hands. He moved from making fibreglass surfboards to wooden hollow boards. These wooden boards are works of art. Graham and I enjoyed our trips down the coast to stay with Peter. It was easy going and relaxed. Another surf highlight was our trip the Maldives about 10 years ago. On that occasion Peter had been surfing in Sri Lanka and then joined the rest of us there.
We all have so many precious memories over the years and we can be glad to be able hang on to those.
Peter was just a great bloke and good mate, and we will miss him very much.