Peter Clifford LeCouteur PhD (UBC)

At Mount Albert Grammar School 1954-1958

Peter LeCouteur began in 3AFr, then 4AFr, Spec 5B, 6Lang and 6A. In his early days he played softball and hockey and was in the boxing class and played the violin in the orchestra. Later he was also in the rifle club and played First XI hockey.

He qualified as a geologist at The University of Auckland and at the University of British Columbia, and went on to prospect for oil, gas and diamonds for various companies and on all continents.

Tramping with Sir Edmund Hillary in the South Island led to his inclusion in an expedition to the Antarctic where he fell down a crevasse, but kept his cool (as it were) until rescued.

In a South American jungle he discovered a fraudulent gold claim and was lucky to get out with his life.

Peter had a shrewd and perceptive intelligence. He enjoyed knowledge rather than knowing it to get marks. He was inventive, causing some explosions in the lower lab while devising his own fireworks as a lab boy. He was big and strong but never a bully. While he took part in many activities, he, like many MAGSsters, left a light footprint. I would like to think that many present pupils could take heart from his accomplishments. You don’t have to top the class to do amazing things.

His typical phone call on arriving in New Zealand was to impersonate a tax officer from Canada Revenue about unpaid income tax, or to make an earnest query on the true story behind the square on the hypotenuse. He teased fellow geologists with phone calls questioning the validity of their New Zealand qualifications.

When I saw him in July 2011 he still looked the strong, healthy, understanding, witty man we always took for granted. In September of 2012 he found out he had cancer, which he faced with stoic humour. He died on 4 November 2012. He was 72.

His obituary in the Canadian National Post included: “He hiked, flew, sailed through some of the most remote and rugged parts of the world, living in camps, yurts and huts of every kind — he co-founded a successful business processing till samples for diamonds in Northern Canada”.

He had two memorial services, one in Canada, the first in North Vancouver, attended by family and a large gathering including the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. A second service in New Zealand was attended by family and many friends and university colleagues.

Vale, Peter Clifford LeCouteur, Albertian.

George Bowen
School and life-long friend