Fransblow, Peter

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                                PETER FRANSBLOW
                                By Andrew Rankin

Miramichi has never produced a finer gentleman than Peter Fransblow and his tragic death will be felt by many for years to come, says Ron Matchett.

Sitting on his cream coloured sofa, with tears welling in his eyes, the Frances Street resident fondly recalled his Harkins High School days spent with Fransblow and said he always felt honoured to be his friend. “He was a really wonderful person, full of humour,” said Matchett. “That was the one thing about Peter, no matter how bad the situation was, he could always see the humour in anything.”

On Monday, Dr. Peter Perly Moses Fransblow’s body and his friend, Phil Black, were found 50 kilometers southwest of Calgary. The two had been missing for a week after setting off on a plane journey from Calgary to Delta, B.C. The Cessna 180, owned by Fransblow, had crashed.

According to those closest to Fransblow, the 68-year-old was a fiercely proud Miramichier visiting his homeland almost annually. Born into a Jewish family and raised in Newcastle, his father, Harry, operated a large family supermarket on Newcastle’s Town Square while his mother, Bernice, tended the homestead.

Matchett says Harry was a shrewd humorous businessman who was liked by all and Bernice was an altruistic soul who helped anyone in need. Fransblow grew up in the depression era, taking a keen interest in hunting and fishing as a boy. But his true passion was building and flying airplanes.

His skilled hands and desire to help people led him to Dalhousie University where he earned a doctorate in dental surgery. Later, he attained a diploma from Eastman Dental Institute in London, England. Upon completing his education, Fransblow was hired by Public Health as a dentist to work in remote communities all over Canada. He finally made his way to Vancouver where he set up one of the city’s most successful orthodontic clinics. Fransblow in a past vice-president of the B.C. Dental Association, and he mentored several study groups of doctors in Vancouver.

It was in Vancouver that he met his wife, Ann, on a blind date, wearing his Akaila Cub Scout Leaders uniform. The couple, married for 36 years, had three children. According to the youngest child, Miramichi was always her father’s little paradise. “He loved his hometown and longed to return to visit,” she said. “He loved autumn in the Miramichi when colours graced the landscape with brilliant reds and oranges. These colours became his signature and he often wore them as part of his wardrobe. He was a proud member of the Miramichi community and returned as often as he could. Often at family dinners, we all listened in anticipation for stories of his family adventures from back home.”

Before selling his father’s building, that is now occupied by Siddall’s Engravings, Fransblow poured thousands of dollars into renovating the historic property. According to Matchett, making a profit off the building wasn’t a priority of Fransblow’s. “The man was extremely wealthy, he didn’t need the money,” he said. “There would be no way that he would sell a dilapidated building. He had too much respect for his town and for his father’s name.”

Millar Avenue resident Bill Barry was another life-long friend of Fransblow’s and says many in the area have been touched by Fransblow’s kindness over the years. “We were always close,” he said. “Growing up we would hunt and fish together. After he left, we kept in close contact. I would visit him in Vancouver and he would come to stay with me. But I know that he had a lot of really close friends in Miramichi that cared a lot about, it just wasn’t me, that’s for sure.”

Besides being a consummate professional, Barry said Fransblow cared deeply for his family. Fransblow paid for his parents move from Miramichi to Vancouver, where the couple lived comfortably in upscale living arrangements. Although busy with his practice, Fransblow visited his parents nearly every day. Harry has since died, but Bernice remains healthy at 102.

Peter is described as an adventurous soul, always looking for a new challenge. After receiving his pilot license in 1961, he purchased a plane which he flew all over Canada.

The Miramichier recently sold his Vancouver business, but in his retirement continued to serve his clients.

According to his daughter, his patients were almost like family to the man. “He was so respected and appreciated by his patients that they considered him their friend,” she said.

“Dad was, and is, in spirit, the most generous, hardworking and genuine man I have known. He raised his children to be kind, non-judgemental and giving. He touched thousands of lives and was a mentor to so many, young and old. He was so proud of his wife, Ann; he will be missed by many.”

Source: Miramichi Leader – September 2, 2005

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