A Farewell to Bellingham Paddler Peter Marcus

On Saturday, January 28th we said farewell to one of my, and many people’s, closest friends.

He was the first Bellingham paddler I met when we moved here in 2003, Peter Marcus.

From that moment of meeting him at Marine Park, as he prepared to race the kayak leg of the Bellingham Traverse, I saw him as bigger than life.

That impression never changed.

He ultimately lost a battle with cancer that had, like so many people, infected him at way too young an age.

Peter was so much more than just a member of the paddling community; he had become nothing short of the keystone of it.

He did this by creating and then filling a leadership role than none of us even knew was missing, until he did it.

And then he poured into it, for years and years, to the benefit of those of us blessed enough to be in his orbit.

I’d like to share a tribute I wrote for Peter the day after he died:


We said farewell to an unequaled pillar of the paddling community yesterday, Peter Marcus.

Peter was, to me, the ultimate man of action.

He raced surfski and canoe at a high level, pushing all of us to bring our A-game every single day.

Over the decades he invested just an unimaginable amount of time and energy into creating, organizing, and conducting races like the Rough Water Challenge, events like the Paddler’s Film Festival, fundraisers like Paddle 4 Food, and weekly interval training for any and all Bellingham paddlers.

All of it a straight donation of his time, to serve the community, to make us all better, for years upon years, tireless.

There was never any money in it for Peter, never enough thanks for how much he did, and yet he never slowed or stopped.

Any time he couldn’t be there to lead, he always made sure to arrange a replacement, for the good of the rest of us.

He dealt with injuries and post-op complications that would have driven most people to depression, but never Peter.

He always pushed through, and of course there he would be out on the water, or on the trails on his mountain bike, showing us all the way, time and again.

Peter invested the same time, energy, and love into his amazing daughters Alex and Riley, and their mutual adoration and love for him was an example to all of us of how tight a family can be.

I had the pleasure of working with Peter on multiple real estate purchases and sales over the years, and I always learned from his creativity as an investor, his fairness as a landlord.

Peter saw life differently than most of us. He gave more. He wasn’t afraid to start things, and to lead. He was a visionary. He was a brother. And he will be sorely missed.

Peter, you made us all better, you showed us what was possible. Your impact is eternal. Your legend is secure.

The Legend, Peter Marcus, with his daughters Alex and Riley.