Peter Maarsman. (File photo)

Surrey loses ‘invaluable’ community leader

Peter Maarsman, 83, of Newton died of cancer on June 1

Surrey has lost a man who gave so much of his energy to this community.

Peter Maarsman, 83, died of cancer on June 1. It wasn’t a long fight – he only learned about it in April.

His contribution to this city was considerable. Maarsman served as president of the Foundation for the Coalition Against No-Fault in B.C., as executive director of the Surrey Crime Prevention Society, as president of the Green Timbers Heritage Society, and chairman of the Surrey Board of Trade, the latter being from 1994-95.

Anita Huberman, CEO of the board of trade, said Maarsman’s service to this city over five decades was “invaluable.”

“I have many memories of Peter and his passion for Surrey,” she said.

He is survived by Sally Maarsman – his wife of 53 years – and his brother William, who lives in Powell River. Sally lives in Newton.

“We didn’t discover it until about April,” Sally said of the cancer. “He was in pain before that, but he wouldn’t go to the doctors, no I’ll get rid of it, it can’t be that bad. Finally the pain got too bad and I said you go see your doctor.”

“He went so fast.”

Maarsman was also a news man for 25 years. From 1967 to 1992, he worked in television, radio, newspapers and magazines. Before that, he attended BCIT and Ryerson.

“He wrote for the CBC for a while,” Sally recalled. “He got along with everyone.”

He also attended North Surrey High School.

“Peter was raised in Surrey. When his parents moved – they used to live I think in Burnaby – then they moved out here in Surrey where we didn’t have Guildford, it was just all bush pretty well,” Sally said.

Maarsman was also a member of the Versatiles for 12 years, Cloverdale’s golden-aged variety performers.

“He helped our crazy group of seniors entertain hundreds of people in and around Cloverdale and the Lower Mainland for 12 years,” said Susie Francis, group founder.

Francis said Maarsman would often perform with a dog hand puppet and that puppet act was a fan favorite of all age groups.

Maarsman also arrested people at rodeo time in an effort to raise money for the Legion. He made it fun for a lot of surprised prisoners, explained Francis, and the prisoners would have to “bail” themselves out.

“Peter was on the board of directors for the Society of Versatile Entertainers for seven years and guided us through some tough times,” added Francis.

There will be no memorial service.

“That’s something he never wanted,” Sally said.

— with files from Malin Jordan

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Peter Maarsman is seen with his dog puppet, a crowd favourite. (Photo: Submitted)

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