Vilnis Petersons (Papiņš)
December 9th, 1944 – October 30th, 2019
On October 30th, Vilnis passed away peacefully at North York general hospital at age 74 with family holding his hands and witnessing his last breaths. He leaves his wife Elizabete (Elita) of 50 years, daughters Ann-Marie, Margita, and Erika with their families, and sister Ilze with her family.
Vilnis’ dreams of part-time retirement to Riga, Latvia with his wife Elita, and volunteering for the Latvian organizations he loved were curtailed by the diagnosis of a rare blood illness earlier this year. He pulled himself through the early complications of the illness with his innate determination and postive outlook. His last few months were spent enjoying the company of family and friends. Most recently he celebrated Thanksgiving at the family cottage in Minden, Ontario surrounded by the laughter and love of friends and family.
He was born Decemer 9th, 1944 to Edite Petersons (nee Krigers) and Arvids Petersons in Malchow, Germany. A child of war refugees from Embute Latvia the family emigrated to Canada, first to Matawa Ontario, finally settling in Willowdale Ontario in the 1950s. Vilnis graduated from York University in 1969 earning a degree in Geography. While in University he joined the Latvian Fraternity “Academica” and was an active life-time member. Instead of choosing to pursue employment in his studied field, Vilnis chose to join his father’s construction company working as estimator for a number of years. His professional career was spent working at numerous large and mid-sized construction companies. He retired in 2017.
Raised in the Latvian community, Vilnis always held the language and culture dear. He finished both the Toronto Latvian elementary and high schools. Throughout his life he volunteered for and was an active member of numerous organizations including the Toronto Latvian Scout troop, Latvian National Federation of Canada (LNAK), St. John’s Latvian Lutheran Church and Toronto Latvian Senior’s Association. His passion for politics inspired him to canvas and volunteer time for the PC party of Ontario through numerous provincial elections.
In 1952 his parents Edite and Arvids decided to purchase a cottage outside of Toronto. Family lore has it that when visiting a property on Mountain Lake, Minden ON, Vilnis whispered in his mum’s ear that “this was the place”. This place is now our little heaven on earth, enjoyed by 5 generations throughout the years. He was one of the founding members of the Mountain Lake Property Owners Association and served as secretary for a number of years.
Vilnis was always eager to entertain friends and family. Many nights were spent in his company in passionate banter and debate or signing Latvian folk songs that he so loved. We will miss him greatly.
The family thanks everyone for their love, kindness and support the last few months including the doctors, nurses and caregivers at both Sunnybrook and North York General hospitals.
A memorial service will be held November 7th with visitation at 1pm and service at 2pm at York Funeral Centre, 160 Beecroft Rd., North York, Ontario.
For those wishing to honor Vilni’s memory, donations can be made to LNAK (the Latvian National Federation of Canada) , St. John’s the Latvian Lutheran church in Toronto, North York General Hospital or Sunnybrook hospital.