Death AND Life

Peter McGowan shot this (at Jaws I believe) when he would escape his beloved south coast of MA and head to Hawaii for the winter.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but…I write about some pretty ridiculous stuff. And even though I must admit that spending way more than my fair share of time at $10,000 per night private islands, or on superyachts in Antarctica, or fist bumping the Prince of Monaco while wearing a vintage Armani tuxedo, or hanging out in saunas and ice baths with Gabby Reece and Laird Hamilton is ridiculously awesome.

This shot came from the day he called me up and said…”You wanna go for a ride in a helicopter today?”

The truth is…none of that stuff really matters compared to the power love, and kindness, and compassion, and being there for other people. Now, I know, this is hardly an original idea. In fact original ideas are pretty kinda hard to come by. But that just makes my point in fact!

And the recent death of my friend Peter McGowan (he was diagnosed with a rare brain disease 21 days ago and died yesterday at the age of 56) reminds me, to kindly remind us all, that in the end, the only thing that has any power at all is…Love.

He shot this one on the Vineyard.

All through the ages, wise people, (the people people like me end up telling our kids about when I’m not riding an exotic bicycle through France!) learn (through a combination of pain, openness, injustice, humor, intelligence, courage and a good dose of spiritual magic), how to…Love. It’s quite simple actually.

They give.


And since I’ve been having lots of weird (yet comforting) crying jags since Friday, I’m compelled to write about what my enigmatic, charming, funny (and often infuriating!!!) friend Peter McGowan gave me. He was a collaborator. And an artist. And a creator. And an innovator. And a true partner in crime (some of the things we did were against the law!), and a pain-in-the-ass.

But his gift to me may be one of the most important gifts of all…inspiration.

Shooting the breeze with him about his recent exploits on foiling kite boards, and DN ice boats, and A-cats, and surf boards, and stand-up-paddle boards, and outrigger canoes, and skis not only inspired me to keep trying new stuff (as long as there was a certain amount of LUXURY involved!). And while I never really got a chance to tell him, his inspiration will continue to push me to do cool stuff and more importantly, to continue to share the love with all the people I’m so lucky to have in my life.


Thank you Peter McGowan. You’ve inspired us all!

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  1. says: Kari

    Lots of belly sobs this week as I learned the news. He inspired me, pushed me, and questioned me… and fought me. He definitely wasn’t a sheep, but I was never sure which drummer he danced to. One of so few I really got and who got me. Fearless, last-minute, ill-advised, late … did I mention fearless. “Oh … I just need a little ducktape so the seatbelt doesn’t unfasten and I go flying out of the helicopter to my death.” Just a little ducktape pal. Can I have ducktape Peter? You’ll be OK. Haaaaa!

  2. says: Courtney

    Bill, thank you for your wonderful article with media by Peter… killer drone shots!?! That is so Peter as recall all the great times. We were high school classmates and good friends then lost touch after college as we went our separate paths. It is incredible to read all the ways in which Peter impacted all of us. The sly smile, nebulous plans, maddening ocassions only to know deep down was one loyal, funny, adventuresome, great friend. Always pushing the edge… yet coming out smiling. As his family wrote with the news of his departing us, play more and work less. I’m grateful for Peter making sure times with him was always interesting… sail on my friend Peter. Best, Courtney

  3. says: Brad

    Peter was a one of a kind guy, a kid at heart, playful and fun and talented to the bone. I was lucky enough to meet him on the Vineyard in ’87 and we became fast friends. Loved to do anything with him ane we did more things than I am sure I can even remember, the list is long, coast to coast and beyound. Everyone of them an adventure filled with fun and laughter. He was a kindred spirit and has left a big void in mine and many hearts and lives. Godspeed Peter. Rock on my friend, see you on the otha side.

  4. says: Ted Ruegg

    Great article Bill. I too have been deeply moved by the outpouring of Love for Peter. The strength of his family is incredible. While I usually saw Peter at his grumpiest during Annapolis boat shows. He created great work and help tell the story of his subjects with a flair and skill that few can equal. He will be missed but his work will live on.

  5. says: Anne-Marie Russell

    Love this so much. Love you so much. Thank you for always inspiring, always knowing that gratitude is generative, always keeping us laughing, humbled and aspirational all at the same time.

  6. says: Lou Chrostowski

    Bill, I am so very sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers go to you and all of Peter’s loved ones.