Letter sent to fans who had written to or about Pete, 1972, by John Napier
Peter Ellstrom Deuel was a brilliant earthly star. You could easily spot him in a mass of people on a crowded boulevard because he sparkled when he walked. You felt the gentleness of his soul when you looked into his penetrating eyes. When he spoke, you listened and watched intently as his hands made diagrams in the air punctuating the flow of speech that came so easily. And, his smile!!!!
I shall never forget one early morning, about 4 a.m., this past summer when Pete stood in front of my home, barefoot, in blue Jeans, looking out over the vast valley stretching far in the distance and began, in a loud, strong, beautiful voice, to recite Hamlet! Even in my sleepless stupor I was suddenly caught up in the beauty of the speech as his Hamlet reverberated against the hills. When he came near the end of the speech, the sun began to peak its brilliant head over a nearby mountain as if to pay tribute to a fine performance. “I love you Sun,” he yelled, and we broke into gales of laughter. Neighbors, be damned! It was a happy time. There were many happy times like that.
Pete loved life. He was “involved” with life. He loved being involved in movements that fought to make this world a better place in which to live and it was only natural that he gave of his time and funds to fight for the preservation of our environment. The many people who worked with him on any “cause,” whether it be political, charitable, or environmental will never forget his bright enthusiasm and unfailing energy.
I have shared days and hours with him when he was happy, sad, depressed, full of energy, exhausted, laughing, lonely, happy, angry, crying, enthusiastic, and ready to fight, play, and love. All of us go through many different and varied emotions in a given time and they are all very personal to each of us and, yet, in a way, his was no different than yours or mine. He sought peace in many ways. Peace for himself. Peace for a violent world. And when he signed his autograph for you, it was “Peace and Ecology Now”, meaning that he hoped you would obtain peace for yourself by fighting for a peaceful world and a clean environment.
His tragic, accidental death has left all of us who loved him so much in a state of shock and bewilderment. In shock because it came so suddenly, as all accidents do, without warning. Bewildered that such a young, fruitful life should suddenly be snuffed out, denying him the beauties and pleasures of future years and denying you and me the pleasures of watching his creation of different characters in performances that took us out of the realm of our own humdrum lives and transported us into his majestic world of the theatre. Much, much more than that, those of us who were close to him and shared his personal and public life will greatly miss the Peter Deuel we knew so well and the pleasure of his inspiring company. He had a great deal to live for. He had a brilliant future ahead of him. We had made many plans and it was only a matter of time until he realized his dreams and hopes.
On December 31, 1971, Pete was happy. His girlfriend, Dianne, was with him, and earlier that evening they had been opening some Christmas presents. He was cleaning a revolver which he accidentally discharged and, instantly, his young beautiful life was snuffed out. [Ed. Note: There is no evidence to support the claim made here that Peter accidentally shot himself from an unplanned discharge of the pistol while he was cleaning it.] I knew about it within five minutes.
For nearly ten years, Pete and I were friends in the truest sense of the word. For the past six years, I was his business manager and, as a result of this association, I feel I know him better than anyone except, of course, his loving mother and father, sister Pamela and brother Geoffrey.
He was my little “brother.”
Peace and Ecology Now!