By Larry Waight
Belizean poet Iris Sankey-Lewis recently wrote: “You stood in radiance of sun; changed, like Eve, in soft pastels.” The words echo feelings about dreams and fleeting impressions of people held dear; and for those who loved and respected everything about him, Mr. Peter Tonti will forever stand in the radiance of that sun, as his spirit will not disappear, despite his passing on April 16, 2015.
A near-legend of a man, Mr. Tonti arrived in Belize as a Peace Corps volunteer in the 1970s, but his love affair with the nation was too deeply rooted to leave, so he made Belize his home. Working in Belmopan for the Reconstruction and Development Corporation, responsible for building and fashioning Belize’s new capital, he joined the Belmopan Convention Hotel in 1983.
Serving on the Inter-American Development Bank’s Civil Society Consulting Group for Belize and on the Board of the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) from 2010 – 2013, he was the CFO for the Lodge at Chaa Creek from 1998 to 2013 before ultimately serving as CEO of Cahal Pech Village Resort.
At his passing, he remained a Chief Adviser of the Belize Tourism Industry Association.
“He was a giant of a man; someone who left both the world and Belize a better place,” said Daniel Silva, Cahal Pech Village Resort chairman and owner. “I’m personally devastated. I can’t imagine a Belize tourism world without him and I suspect legions of people with whom he came into contact feel exactly the same way. Shock doesn’t begin to describe how I felt when I heard this news.”
“If all he did was contribute to the new capital of Belize, that would have been enough,” added Tanya Silva, the resort’s general manager. “But he literally changed the lives of those with whom he came into contact. When I didn’t have faith in myself, Peter had faith in me. That sort of man is irreplaceable.”
Called a Renaissance thinker by those who came into contact with him personally and professionally, Peter Tonti lived by example and guided by experience that is best exemplified by the sage advice he gave to others. When asked how he wanted to be remembered, he sat back, thought briefly, and said:
“I want to be remembered as the guy who made a difference in the lives of Belizeans and throughout the world—to be thought of as the man who believed in others–even those who had a hard time believing in themselves. I’ve led a humble life and ask no more than being remembered in other people’s hearts as someone who came along and unselfishly acted as a guide.”
A wake will be held from 7pm to 1pm on Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 at his residence in San Ignacio Town which is adjacent to UNO Gas Station on Benque Road.
As tributes continue to flow in from all corners of the country, plans are underway to celebrate his life and legacy at the Sacred Heart Parish Church in San Ignacio, Cayo on April 22nd, 2015. The viewing of his body will be from 2-3 pm, and the memorial mass will commence at 3 p.m.
For more information about the celebration of his life, please contact Tanya Silva at Tanya@cahalpech.com or by calling 601-0315.
FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN MAKING A DONATION AT THE FUNERAL, THE FAMILY OF THE LATE MR. PETER TONTI HUMBLY ASKS THAT A MONETARY DONATION BE MADE TOWARDS THE SCHOLARSHIP FUND HONORING THE LEGACY OF MR. TONTI, IN LIEU OF FLOWERS AND WREATHS. THE BANK ACCOUNT NUMBER IS #650-222-90030 IN THE BELIZE BANK, SAN IGNACIO BRANCH. THE NAME ON THE ACCOUNT IS UNDER DR. DELITA MENDEZ TONTI.
PLEASE EMAIL TANYA@CAHALPECH.COM OR CALL 633-0740 IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN MAKING A DONATION.Cahal Pech Village Resort Mourns the Loss of CEO Peter Tonti by admin