February 7, 2024
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Glenn Burton Peister, one of the founding members of Landscape Ontario and the association's first president, passed away on January 28, 2024. He was 97.

A man larger than life, whose legacy is etched in the hearts of those fortunate enough to have known him, Glenn had a razor-sharp memory, quick wit, and infectious sense of humour. Glenn endeared himself to family and friends alike. His zest for life and vigour never faded.

Glenn's journey through life was nothing short of inspiring, and all bets were on for him to live for at least a century.

A true pioneer in the Canadian landscape industry, Glenn was instrumental in creating local, provincial and national industry associations, many now amalgamated into Landscape Ontario, of which he was the founding president. "We met and we met and we met," Peister recalled of the time spent trying to arrive at a solution to merge three associations into one. When LO was formed in 1973, Peister said, "This took years of effort by unselfish, far-sighted people who sought to improve and promote their chosen vocation." Peister also says he put 12,000 miles on his car during his year as LO president.

In his first column that appeared in Landscape Ontario magazine, Glenn wrote, “Landscape Ontario will develop, serve and prosper directly in proportion to the degree to which we collectively support it. We have a wealth of ingredients needed to make Landscape Ontario a vital force in the industry.”

Henry Walser Funeral Home
507 Frederick Street, Kitchener
Thursday, February 8, 2024
5:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Memorial service:
Henry Walser Funeral Home (Chapel)
Friday, February 9, 2024
1:00 p.m.

Celebration of Life:
Merry-Hill Golf Club
2321 Shantz Station Road, Breslau
Friday, February 9, 2024
2:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.

The second child of Orvelle (d. 1938 in Toronto) and Verna (Coulter) Peister (d. 1962 in California), living with older sister Merilyn (d. 2016) and younger brother Ray (d. 2020) in Toronto during a time where delivering eggs, produce and meat by bicycle were necessary and commonplace, Glenn was required to assume the mantle of "head of the household" at the age of 11 upon the untimely death of his father in his 38th year. Glenn wholeheartedly embraced the role as an exemplary patriarch, shaping a life dedicated to personal growth, family succession, and establishing a legacy that will endure through the lives of his family members.

Times were tough coming out of the depression. Glenn worked at many jobs to assist in making ends meet while in school. If there was an extra nickel to be made by making the last butcher delivery of the day, Glenn could be relied on to appear at the butcher's door to get the job done.

Many summers were spent honing his work ethic on the farm of Grant Hubble in Brighton, travelling from Toronto first by bicycle and later by motorcycle complete with sidecar. Mastering the crucial commands of "gee" and "haw" for directing a horse team hauling freshly mown hay proved essential for success on the farm. Without a doubt, Glenn's instructions were executed flawlessly, as the horses unwaveringly followed his lead.

Glenn trained and served as a naval officer in the Canadian Navy sailing from coast to coast through the Panama Canal. This enabled him to boast in later years about how "I was in uniform before you were in liquid form."

With the closure of the war effort, Glenn resumed his studies at the Ontario Agricultural College (now the University of Guelph) graduating cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture "Class of 50". Glenn's interest in horticulture and developing his prodigious knowledge of Latin nomenclature came easily to him. Complex plant names such as "chamaecyparis pisifera filifera aurea nana" would roll off his tongue frequently and gracefully throughout his life, accompanied with a proud grin. Grit, tenacity and determination resulted in his winning individual wrestling championships in '49 and '50 and his inspiring coaching abilities that willed the OAC team to the Ontario Wrestling Team Championships in '51. However, Glenn's most important University achievement came while he was supply-teaching a class that was attended by a young lovely student at MacDonald Hall, Frances Irene Strath. A very lucky break indeed, for all of us who follow in Glenn's footsteps.

Glenn and Fran (d. 2021) were wed in Burlington. Four children soon arrived at the Peister home on Cressman Avenue: Linda (Bruce), Sue (Don), Al (Sherry) and Brad (Elaine).

In 1950 Glenn founded McLean-Peister Limited with headquarters on King Street East in Kitchener, Ont. Using his extensive knowledge, skills and creativity as a leader, contractor, Landscape Architect, and influencer, Glenn developed an enviable landscape and general site contracting business operating throughout the province and beyond.

Glenn left his mark by undertaking thousands of landscape projects, including prestigious sites such as the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Ontario Science Centre, Queen's Quay Park in Toronto and Expo '67 in Montreal. Glenn completed major landscape works on many of Ontario's Universities including U of T, Wilfred Laurier, UW, and University of Guelph.

He was fortunate to combine his love of golf with business, being involved in significant renovation projects at golf courses such as Lionhead, Barrie National Pines, Glenn Abbey and many others. In 1993 Glenn and his family purchased Merry-Hill Golf Club and Innerkip Highlands Golf Club where the legacy of design, construction, horticultural excellence and management acumen have been applied throughout the years.

His volunteer time included serving as chairman of the Waterloo Township School Board, and Trustee on the Kitchener School Board. The many graduates of Pine Grove School are forever thankful for "Mr. Peister's Gym". To add to Glenn's legend, he was sworn in as "Police Chief for a Day".

Glenn always had time for the kids. His arrival home from the office would inevitably bring that well known neighbourhood refrain "Can Mr. Peister come out to play?" Family trips to ski, swim, "fish" for frog legs and generally just have fun are fond memories for everyone involved. The "big kids" will never forget the joys of trout fishing, competitive tennis matches and "tennis ball golf" at the Tavistock Farm. Who could forget the "pond to table" meals that were served alfresco at the "Farm" by Fran and her many friends? Watching or participating, stogie in hand, Glenn never lost the spark of youthful enthusiasm or the twinkle of mischief waiting to reveal itself.

Glenn was justifiably proud and honoured by the many long lasting and deep relationships that he developed with friends, colleagues, peers and particularly employees. His phone never stopped ringing from people of all walks of life, seeking guidance, perspective or simply a funny "one-liner" to round out their day. He was always there to help.

Glenn was a fierce competitor and strong athlete, who also pursued excellence in the game of Squash. He was co-founder of the Kitchener-Waterloo Racquet Club in 1962, serving as building chairman and assisted in constructing Canada's first Doubles court right here in Kitchener. Weekly treks to Detroit for squash lessons from World #1 Hashim Khan propelled Glenn to win local and provincial divisional championships.

His golfing career includes five holes-in-one, wins in the Westmount Match Play Championship, the LPGA pro-am with Hall of Famer Dawn Coe-Jones, the Westmount KW Oktoberfest Pro Am with son Al.

Glenn was a regular at numerous restaurants. Seldom would he walk into an establishment and not be instantly recognized - most often receiving the prompt delivery of his beverage of choice (martini, anyone?). Dinners with Glenn were highly entertaining for all involved - dinner guests and service staff alike. He loved to schmooze, and his charm was captivating.

Glenn's ability to think big steered his career from general contracting to land development to golf course ownership and management. His passion for both business and family was manifested in the flourishing success of the businesses that had now entered the third generation - a source of immense pride for Glenn. With this transition accomplished, his passion for complex and detailed woodworking was rekindled. He spent thousands of hours honing his skills, creating masterfully designed furniture, intricate jewelry boxes and handcrafted children's toys.

Steadfast and enduring, Glenn's loving partner, Fran raised the kids, managed the household, wined and dined and danced through a life filled with promise. Fran's man was a raconteur, a trickster, a generous, caring individual and a riser to the grand occasion. Few could match his timing, his memory or his ability to share a story, recite a complicated poem or tell an Irish tale. Fran loved and laughed with him all the way.

Together Glenn and Fran watched their family grow and prosper. Their legacy will continue through their children, and grandchildren Julia (Scott), Adam (Nicole), Glenn (Brandey), Fraser (Ellianne), Robyn (Mason), Brandon (Andrea), Carly (Nick), Bree (Brett) and Chelsea. The population explosion continued with 14 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

Glenn is remembered as our father, grandpa, friend, mentor, confidant and stoic anchor through good times and bad. A man generous by nature and empathetic in heart, he lived a profoundly meaningful life marked by entrepreneurship, excitement, curiosity and exploration. We will continue to be inspired by his humour, kindness, dedication, strength of spirit and energy.

In October 2023, Glenn proudly celebrated his 97th birthday at the grand opening of McLean-Peister's newest venture, Kitchener Self Storage.

Cremation has taken place as requested by Glenn.

Expressions of sympathy may be made by donating to the Alzheimer Society Research Program in memory of Fran Peister (cards are available at the funeral home).

On online obituary and tribute wall can be found on the funeral home website.
Read more about Glenn Peister in a past-president profile on the Landscape Ontario website.