Rumor Has It

Remembering Peter Gunn

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

My dad is the kind of guy who will stop and give five minutes of his time to just about anyone. Because of this, I have learned that it is entirely possible to form lasting, meaningful bonds with people five minutes at a time. 

If ever there was anyone made for friendships formed in five-minute increments, it was Peter Gunn, who passed away a few days ago. In his official capacity before his recent retirement, Peter was a longtime employee of the Downtown Bellingham Partnership dedicated to keeping our streets beautiful, as well as a steadfast volunteer for and board member of the local nonprofits he so loved.

In his unofficial capacity, he was a sort of People’s Mayor of Bellingham, elected year in and year out by an overwhelming majority of the popular vote.

But to the marrow of his being, he was a standup comedian, no matter what he was doing.

For me, spending five minutes with Peter—a thing I did a few times a week for many years as I’d go about my downtown business—looked a little like this: First, he’d spot me across a street or down a block and his face would light up with anticipatory glee. We’d go through the standard niceties of greeting each other before he’d ask me if I had a minute—and I always did—and then, with a decided twinkle in his eye that belied his somewhat deadpan voice with the thick East Coast accent he never lost, he’d tell me a joke. But it wouldn’t just be a joke. It would be a bit, complete with setup and punchline. In keeping with his off-kilter sense of humor and comedic timing, his bits never went where I thought they were headed. Most of them made me laugh, some of them made me groan, but I never tired of being one of the likely hundreds of people treated to a mini standup act with every encounter.

But Peter packed so much more than laughs into our five-minute visits. We talked baseball—I enjoyed pretending to hate his beloved Yankees—politics and whatever local happenings that captured our fancy. Over time, we talked about other things that were harder and more personal, and that’s how I discovered his generous nature, sensitive soul, and the depth and breadth of his love for the people he cared about.

Peter’s death, from natural causes, was both sudden and surprising, enough so that it left many of us feeling not just bereft, but also robbed of opportunity. I never got to tell him I don’t really hate the Yankees. I never told him there’s a big piece of my heart with his name stamped all over it. But I think he knew. You can tell a lot about a person in five minutes.

Past Columns
Comings and goings:

October 16, 2019

Sing Loud:

October 9, 2019

Road to somewhere:

October 2, 2019

Sound of Soundings:

September 25, 2019

News of brews

September 18, 2019

Sex In The City:

September 11, 2019

While I was sleeping:

September 4, 2019

Little in the middle

August 28, 2019

Into the woods

August 21, 2019

Bands at Barkley

August 14, 2019

Ready, Fight!

August 7, 2019

Rock and Vote

July 31, 2019

The longest night

July 24, 2019

From the Rooftop

July 10, 2019

Breaking News

June 19, 2019

Remembering Lucas Hicks

October 11, 2017

Events
Today
Fall Lynden Craft and Antique Show

10:00am|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

My Fair Lady

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Spokes

7:30pm|Firehouse Arts and Events Center

Mixtape

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Whatcomics Call for Art

10:00am|Whatcom County

Wishes and Dreams Call for Art

10:00am|Gallery Syre

Gore and Lore Tours

6:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Anacortes Vintage Market's Evergreens and Icicles

6:00pm|Port Transit Event Center

Scream Fair's Camp Fear

7:00pm|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

Matilda the Musical

7:30pm| Lincoln Theatre

Hellingham

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Squawktober

8:00pm|Old Main Theater

Community Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|Blaine Senior Center

Ferndale Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

Orca Recovery Day Work Party

9:00am|Nooksack River

Anacortes Farmers Market

9:00am|Depot Arts Center

Yoga and Detox

9:00am|Community Food Co-op

Blanchard Beast Trail Race

9:00am|Blanchard Forest Lower Trailhead

Twin Sisters Farmers Markets

9:00am|North Fork Library

98221 Studio Tour

10:00am|Fidalgo Island

Bellingham Comicon

10:00am|Ferndale Event Center

Steam Expo

10:00am|Lynden Middle School

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Blaine Gardeners Market

10:00am|H Street Plaza

Your Life is a Story Writer's Group

10:30am|South Whatcom Library

Correspondence Club

10:30am|Mindport Exhibits

Fall Festival

11:00am|Camp Korey

Kraut-chi Ferment Class

11:00am|Chuckanut Center

Winter Warmth Drive and Pickup

11:00am|Assumption Church Gym

Art Therapy Workshop

1:30pm|Museum of Northwest Art

Telling Tough Stories

2:00pm|South Whatcom Library

Fables and Tales Upcycle Runway Challenge

6:00pm|Settlemeyer Hall

Concrete Ghost Walk

6:00pm|Concrete Theatre

Brew on the Slough

6:00pm|Maple Hall

Bellingham Hoptoberfest

6:00pm|Civic Way Sportsplex

How I Learned I'm Old

7:00pm|Village Books

Take Me to the River Live

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Skagit Symphony presents Highland Heritage

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Tomorrow
My Fair Lady

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Spokes

7:30pm|Firehouse Arts and Events Center

Whatcomics Call for Art

10:00am|Whatcom County

Wishes and Dreams Call for Art

10:00am|Gallery Syre

Matilda the Musical

7:30pm| Lincoln Theatre

98221 Studio Tour

10:00am|Fidalgo Island

Sedro-Woolley Community Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #43

Trails to Taps Relay

9:00am|Depot Market Square

Birchwood Farmers Market

10:00am|Park Manor Shopping Center

Bellingham Handmade Market

11:00am|Goods Nursery and Produce

Langar in Lynden

11:00am| Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Wild Mushroom Show

12:00pm|Bloedel Donovan Community Building

Harvest Festival

1:00pm|Centennial Riverwalk

Skagit Topic

2:00pm|Skagit County Historical Museum

What If We All Bloomed?

4:00pm|Village Books

Murder Mystery Dessert Theater

6:00pm|Christ Fellowship Church

Monday
Wishes and Dreams Call for Art

10:00am|Gallery Syre

Whatcomics Call for Art

10:00am|Whatcom County

Whatcom Housing Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

Northwest Paella

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Poetrynight

7:00pm|Alternative Library

Guffawingham

9:00pm|Firefly Lounge

see our complete calendar »