Peter Wendell Witherly

Nov 2, 1945 – Feb 23, 2018
On February 23, 2018 Peter Witherly passed away peacefully at home at the age of 72, following a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.

Peter is survived by his loving wife Ellen; his children Michael (Stacy) and Kate (Chris) and their mother Rhoda; step-children Reuben (Glenys), Aurora (Kristian), Erin, and Hans; sister Judith (Arnold); and brothers Claude and Paul (Diane).

‘Papa Pete’ will also be greatly missed by his and Ellen’s nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Peter was predeceased by his parents Wendell and Ella Witherly. 

Peter was born on November 2, 1945 in Vancouver and grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Regina, Saskatchewan and Sherwood Park, Alberta. Peter had a lifelong love of music and began playing the trumpet at a very early age with the Regina Lions Junior Band. As a teen, he was selected for a Canadian Youth Marching Band sent to the Rose Bowl Parade. Peter earned both a Bachelor (1967) and Master’s (1971) Degree in Music from the University of Alberta and was a member of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.

In 1971 Peter accepted a teaching job in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, beginning a 47-year commitment to teaching and fostering music and the arts in the city he loved. Peter spent 34 years teaching music in School District 52 guiding hundreds of students.

Peter believed that art and music were a large part of what it takes to make a community. He was director of the Prince Rupert Rotary Community Choir, conductor of the Prince Rupert Community Band, vocal teacher at the Dance Academy of Prince Rupert, musical director for numerous community productions, and long-time director and treasurer for the Prince Rupert Community Arts Council where he worked tirelessly on the annual Creative Jam.

Through the years Peter was also a member of numerous musical groups including the Undecideds, Muskeg Swing Band, the Rolling Tones, and many iterations of the Skeena Jazz Ensemble.

In 2010, Peter wrote the music and lyrics for “The Dream Lives On” for Prince Rupert’s centennial, an achievement he was extremely proud of. His list of contributions and accomplishments is endless and his death is a huge loss to the music community in the Northwest.

At Peter’s request, no formal service will be held. A community memorial concert will be held in his honour this spring.

If desired, donations may be made to the Prince Rupert & Region Music Society, a cause Peter was deeply committed to, either online at or at the Northern Savings Credit Union.  

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