SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - With a twinkle in his eye and a joking jab, Lowell Huestis was bigger than life.
He left a trail of lasting legacies across P.E.I. The most notable being the preservation of Engine 1762 in Kensington, which once helped knit Island communities together with its railway tracks across the province, as well as creating the historical aircraft display at Slemon Park.
But for Ron Huestis, this legendary Summerside figure that touched so many lives – as a radio broadcaster for more than 40 years, musician (who performed for the former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau), historian, carver, artist and golfer to name but a few – was most importantly a loving and caring father.
“One of my best memories was when he taught me how to play the Hammond organ and he put me on his lap and took my finger to press each note. I learned how to play songs like him, and I wrote my first song when I was six-years-old,” he said.
“He taught me how to fish, stay quiet on the ground so I wouldn’t disturb them swimming beneath, and held me to peer over the brook and I was thrilled by the sight of the trout. They were amazing memories.”
Huestis passed away on Dec. 12. at the age of 90 after a life dedicated to preserving and promoting P.E.I. history.
Growing up in the shadow of the Argus aircraft at Slemon Park, which was decommissioned in 1980, the Huestis family took an interest in aviation and its history.
“Dad thought it was such a shame to see all these planes from the war being chopped up. He wanted to save them for the base. He had a vision of a historical park that he painted about 20 years ago, and that’s exactly how it looks now in real life,” said Ron, who can remember his father soaring over the sky often as a pilot.
But Huestis was also a champion of the people and his likability made him a legend to many Islanders.
Doreen said her husband was a kind-hearted man who loved nature, the outdoors and his family. He was also heavily involved with Ducks Unlimited Canada, a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of wetlands.
"He had a pair of wild Canadian geese that followed him around like dogs,” said Doreen on her husband’s love for the outdoors. “He was an avid hunter and a good shot, but he broke up a family and the mate kept circling the area (as they mate for life) and he was so upset watching this that he gave up the gun and would never shoot birds again.”
Lowell turned his hand to wood carving birds in flight and painting planes soaring in the sky.
“I will miss his big smile, thoughtfulness, love of his family and presence,” said Ron. “But we’re blessed for his legacy.”
- Radio broadcaster with CJRW for more than 40 years – created programs that included West Prince Party Line and Those Were the Days;
- Summerside’s Music Man – performed across the province for various functions, including for former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau;
- Restored the Argus aircraft and envisioned the Airforce Heritage Park at Slemon Park;
- Saved and restored Engine 1762 that can be located in Kensington;
- Instrumental in preserving and promoting other parts of P.E.I.'s history for future generations;
- Incredible artist, wood carver, environmentalist, piano player and tuner, Hammond organ player, historian, aviation and avid golfer.
A funeral service will be held at Trinity United Church in Summerside on Dec. 17, at 11 a.m.