Posted by W. David Gibbs on October 2, 2020
What a difficult anniversary! At Peter’s memorial I had no words adequate to express my sorrow & condolences to Mary; I still don’t. But for the last year I have thought of my friend Peter, every day. I was not within the “inner circle” of Peter & Mary’s closest friends, yet I felt warmly welcomed by both the few times I visited their home & farm. My relationship with Peter, which lasted many years, went well beyond work and professional life. We both made efforts to stay in touch long after our many projects together subsided. We looked for opportunities to work together again, and we shared with each other what we were doing in work and personal and family life. Two weeks before Peter died, we talked about new-old houses we’d bought & life’s transitions, kids & family, etc. We still had plans and dreams to talk about and joke about. Peter, as usual, was the lead jokester.

I miss Peter’s positive presence in our world, his optimism, his very many talents and his sincere friendship. He was a rare and precious soul, loved by many, and words simply can’t describe our collective sense of loss.
Posted by Erika Nicholson on October 2, 2020
Peter I wish so much I could have talked with you again. You were such a good and jovial person. To Mary and Peter's family I extend my greatest and deepest sympathies. I would have attended the memorial service but I did not know about it until 2 weeks later. My colleagues would have told me of course, but two days before Peter passed, my oldest son died in a tragic accident. Our service for him was October 6, 2019. Many of my and Peter's colleagues were there, and I was so thankful for that, but in that situation, no one (appropriately) was going to tell about Peter's death. I did not know until I returned to work 2 weeks later. Dear Mary. That is why I never sent condolences. I broke down all over again thinking about you and your family. Please  accept my very heartfelt condolences. Peter and my son had very similar personalities. Always positive and jovial and non-judgmental.
With breaking heart, I wish you peace. Mary,
I would love to talk with you
Posted by DIANE TORRES on October 2, 2020
Peter's passing was such a shock to all of us. A fatal accident that can't be undone -- it's not fair. Especially when the person taken from us is as loving and wonderful as our Peter. Hard to believe it's already been a year since he went with God. He had such a kind heart and such a gentle, caring personality. We all loved him deeply, and he will always be missed. Our love, thoughts and sympathy go out to our sweet cousin -- his dear wife, Mary -- his children, Marija and Tiana -- and to all of his family, on this, the anniversary of such a sad day. Love you all. ♥
Posted by Kathleen Johnson on October 2, 2020
My loving thoughts and memories go out to Peter's family today on the one-year marking of his death. May eternal light shine upon him.
Posted by Jeff Kelley on May 23, 2020
Devastated is the right word. I met Peter in architecture school in MN around 1980. We were chums instantly, but more than that, we developed a heart connection that I haven’t felt with very many people. Sadly, I can allow even these kinds of people to fall out of my life. Peter was always there and I was not. So, yesterday or the day before, when I decided to get back in touch and I was Googling his name, not remembering he was still in my contact list, I came across the news of his accident and death.

What a kick in the gut! What a loss for his family and the world! It’s so clear from the photos and testaments that his life was a gift to so many. My heart goes out to all, especially to the family and Mary, who along with Peter welcomed me and my family into their home more than once. Peter’s memory inspires me to be a more loving person.          
Posted by Martha Jansson on February 15, 2020
Just stumbled across this sad news today and am simply devastated. We were kids together at Holden Village, and I recall his parents, brother and sister with great warmth. What a great guy and what a heavy loss for his family and friends and everyone he encountered and whose lives he touched.
Posted by Mike Weber on January 2, 2020
I am so deeply saddened to now hear of Peter's passing. I feel privileged to have spent what time I did with him... through his PhD work and beyond. Such a dear soul in so many ways he always stood out amidst my fondest thoughts of friends and family. Wise Counsel, patient, funny, and smart friend - I will truly miss him as much as I have missed anyone in my life.
Posted by Ron Dulaney Jr on November 13, 2019
I was a teaching assistant for Peter, when he was earning his PhD, in around 1992 or 93. We stayed in touch, and we had lunch occasionally while we both worked in Roanoke after moving on from academia. I was saddened just today to hear of Peter's passing.

Peter was a passionate and compassionate human being, and he was always a joy to be around - even when we didn't always agree. He was an effective teacher, who was able to weave 'foreign' stories into meaningful lessons for here and now.

I last communicated with Peter a few years ago when I thought he would be a good potential lecturer here in Morgantown where I currently teach. We didn't set up anything immediately, but in the back of my head I've thought "one day . . . " I guess this is a wake up call for the here and now.

Again, I knew Peter primarily as joyful. He had a great sense of humor and a great laugh. He also had great boots back then! I also know - it was evident - how much he loved his family, who are very much in my thoughts.

Godspeed Peter. You made a difference here. You will be missed.
Posted by West Dune on November 3, 2019
We were very saddened to hear about the passing of Peter. Although we never had the opportunity to know him, we often heard of the wonderful ways Peter and Mary contributed love and caring to the world community. Our niece Liza and John Bakken with their son Mateo told us the sad news. His was a life truly well lived, he will be missed by all. Susan and Ted Wenacur
Posted by Tiana Ozolins on October 25, 2019
It has been a few days over a month since my dad passed away and I'm dealing with the hardest and most confusing emotions I've ever felt. My dad was such an amazing person and the world is not the same without him. I was so lucky to spend time with him this summer traveling and having fun. If Heaven exists, my dad is surely there watching over us, encouraging us to laugh, enjoy life, work hard, and eat well.
Posted by Anna Smith on October 19, 2019
We have such wonderful memories of firefly parties, boy's workday, and short story nights. Peter was always willing to get a little silly... whether it was demonstrating how he could read smaller and smaller pieces of a newspaper as Marija tore it from his hands, or inviting us all into his office to watch a Prince video. Peter would inevitably make you laugh; the kind of laugh that still had you smiling later in the day. Tyler and Anna
Posted by Chinedu Onyeanusi on October 16, 2019
Rest in the Lord love you
Posted by John Randolph on October 16, 2019
Ch. 1: Thirty years ago I was acting director of Virginia Tech’s Environmental Design and Planning Ph.D. program for one year, and frankly I was just winging it while David Conn was on leave. One day a guy comes into my office inquiring about our program. He had a unique presence about him and a quick wit and great smile. He said he just came from Tanzania where he was doing development work and was looking at U.S. Ph.D. programs to pursue his interests and expand his perspective. I was interested, yes, but when he told me he was a fellow Minnesotan and U of M grad, it was a done deal for me, and I arranged all I could to convince everyone (including Peter) that this was a great match. Probably the single best thing I did while acting director of the program. Little did I know that Peter (and Mary) would stay and become such prominent members of the community from Blacksburg to Newport to Salem. 
Ch. 2: About ten years ago, Sandy and I were contemplating an addition to our lake house and I ran into Peter and asked if he was interested in taking a look. This gave us chance to see Peter up close as an architect and what a fun experience. We have a great addition plan, but have yet to build it.
Ch. 3: But a few years later, our next-door lake neighbors the Carlstons told us they were planning to tear down/rebuild and asked if we knew an architect: well YES! It was fun for us to observe Peter through the process of design and implementation (What a house!). The Carlstons continue to thank us for our recommendation and the wonderful experience they had working with Peter, and then Mary (and her friend Lori) who did the landscaping. We then hired Mary and Lori to do a landscaping design for us.

Throughout our lives, we encounter a lot of people, and a few stack up as special. Peter is on my list.
Posted by Leigh Williams on October 13, 2019

Back in 1992, Peter came over to our house while he was visiting his best friend Joe Moses. We were packing the contents of our house for our move to our first "real" jobs in Poughkeepsie, NY. Peter hardly knew us, but pitched right in, wheeling our old metal moving dolly with stacked boxes from the house to a enormous U-Haul. He began to call the dolly the "m-dolly," explaining that "m-" is the prefix for living things used in Swahili, and that dolls (toys, not wheeled carts) are often called "m-dollies" there. Peter wheeled that lively "m-dolly" back and forth to the truck all day long. The name has been with it ever since.
Peter made our dolly into a living thing and it's been that way for 27 years now.
Posted by Joe Moses on October 13, 2019
If I were feeling the way I feel today, I would call Peter.

He would remind me of the joys of my family and ask about Janet and Katie and Patrick.

He would remind me of the joys of his family, and I would ask about Mary and Marija and Tiana.

He would remind of the joys of our friendship and the power we shared in our ability to combine our energies and imaginations, such as the time the 56 Chevy wagon wouldn’t start on a cold winter morning, and how he drummed on the dashboard and I cranked the engine and we said, “Come on, baby, you can do it,” until it started up.

I would tell him about something stupid I’d done and he’d say oh, Joseph, what I did was much dumber and he’d tell me about it and I’d say, “Oh, yeah--that was way dumber.”

And he’d ask about my projects because he knew how much I liked to talk about them and I asked him about his projects because I knew what they meant to him.

I’d tell him I was stuck on a story I was writing and he would help me get unstuck.

At the end of our conversation I would say, “You’re a good man, Peter Ozolins” and he would say, “I love you so much, Joseph,” and I would say “I love you too, Peter.”

And he would say, “'Bye.”
Posted by Patricia Wright on October 11, 2019
So sad to hear of the tragic passing of Peter. I worked with Peter for nearly a decade in Madagascar. He designed and executed our beautiful Centre ValBio Research station, LovaBe Hall on the edge of Ranomafana National Park, near Fianarantsoa, our CVB outdoor classroon Pavilion, the driveway and the CVB entrance to the campus Peter was always a delight to work with. Ever patient, ever cheerful, his real desire was to make something useful and beautiful for Madagascar. His skills as an architect were evident, but beyond that he had extraordinary people skills. All of our team loved working with Peter. Madagascar is a challenging place, and Peter took all those challenges in stride and made things work. He understood Madagascar. He was kind and caring. We enjoy his building everyday and we at CVB will have a ceremony and plant a tree for Peter Ozolins a growing reminder of his time with us. My heart goes out to Peter's wife and children. So very sad to lose such a wonderful person.
Posted by Janet Philion on October 10, 2019
We're so fortunate to have met Peter and his family when they were in Minnesota last summer. Peter's life story is truly remarkable, and it's clear he left a lasting legacy--not only through his incredible children but by his loving impact on so many others around the world. May Peter's family and friends be comforted by the love and support of each other and by their rich memories of this very special person.
Posted by TRUMAN Capone on October 10, 2019
Faith and I have been fortunate to know Peter and Mary for many years. In this time I was extremely privileged to work on a number of design projects with Peter relating to the Arts and Education. Peter was amazing on numerous levels, always his dedication and enthusiasm to the task at hand, his unlimited creativity, his amazing optimism and sense of humor and charisma that he brought to the undertaking. I have also been fortunate to have Peter train with me in the Japanese martial art of Aikido. He was such a dedicated learner and always totally understanding and respecting the importance of the culture, the participants and the art, a true peaceful warrior. As a family, as friends, and as a community, we sincerely express our deepest sadness, we acknowledge the loss, and acknowledge the great importance and purpose of Peter’s life, and the loss it will be to us all that his passing brings. Though extremely difficult, we must face courageously the fact of Peter’s untimely death, which we owe to beautiful Peter his family and to ourselves that we do acknowledge the significant contributions of his life, which are countless in scope. Peter’s dedication to humanity and international travels with his unique design contributions in interesting places. Peter had a commitment to a wonderful family, the achievement of his professional and real life success, and the ability to maintain voluminous friendships. Faith, myself and our family remembers Peter as a wise and wonderful kind man that knew the value of his cherished friends, his family and his home.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Truman & Faith & Family
Posted by Anna Mudd on October 10, 2019
After leaving Blacksburg and moving to Kentucky, our family never lost touch with the friends we left there. Especially, the Ozolins. We would go back often on the weekends, making the 7 hour trip through the windy roads from Kentucky to Virginia, I remember them as being so much longer, probably because I was a whiny kid who just wanted to get to her best friend Tiana as soon as possible. These car rides are still so significant to me, and the aspect I remember the strongest was the arrival to the Ozolins house. We would finally pull up down the gravel driveway after this trip that had felt so long. It would usually be nighttime, Tiana and Mary would be asleep already. But there was always a light on in Peter’s office, and there he would be looking out from his desk. Waiting up to greet us. My childlike excitement was always met by his excitement to have us there. He was always the first one I saw when we finally arrived at the Ozolins. But, Peter was more than just this symbol of us making the trip to Virginia. He was thoughtful, funny, and genuinely caring. It is hard to imagine pulling up to an Ozolins house without peter in it, but the legacy he has left with all those he was close to and who shared his home makes the thought easier.
Posted by Becky Berkas on October 10, 2019
I have been slow to post as somehow this makes it feel more real. Tom and I have been so sad to hear about this and words do not seem to capture our feelings. The world truly lost a really great guy. 

Peter (and then Peter and Mary) were dear friends from Madagascar. Peter was kind, fun and always supportive. We teased him because I believe he was the first one to the hospital when our daughter Molly was born. We were not living in the same town at the time but Peter visited often as he headed several projects in the area. As he arrived to town he came by to visit and didn’t find us home. Certain we were at the maternity center he drove straight there. We were coming for a check up and as we pulled in we saw Peter’s truck pulling out. :) Moly arrived a few days later and Peter was our first visitor. 

We shared so many experiences with Peter over those next several years. We admired his bright and creative mind, his wit and we valued his dear friendship. Peter touched our lives and he will be forever in our hearts. 

We cannot join you for the celebration of his life but we will be holding you all in our hearts and prayers. 
Posted by Robert Massengale on October 10, 2019
Peter brought a warmth and good natured humor into every situation I ever encountered him in. He had a delightfully intimate way of tilting his head in and talking a little lower to you. This would be a chance to drop a little joke or have a personal side conversation while a saw was buzzing or waiting in line at aikido for someone smaller to throw one of us across the room.

He was a welcoming spirit in aikido and in other parts of his life.Peter loved aikido for the exercise . I think we both were inspired by the agility and skills of our sensais. I later learned that he also attended with his friend and employee Brendan, which I think reveals the sincerity and good nature of someone to include their friend / employee in an activity that’s personal and special for them.

Peter later rolled me into the boys workday, because they needed a youth movement that possessed the naïveté of the original members so someone would continue doing the dumber things that they were getting to forgetful to try and do.

Peter was a witty, kind, intelligent, hardworking, and fun friend to be around. He was a great source of advice and encouragement. He built community with his actions and in the example his lifestyle . He was proud of his family, the home he made with Mary, and all the wonderful friendships he made everywhere he went.
Posted by Sandi Ozolins on October 10, 2019
With our deepest sympathy, Peter's Australian cousins and our families send much LOVE and LIGHT to our family in America at the passing of our beloved Peter whom we were yet to meet!! Rest in Peace Dearest cousin, and may you FLY WITH THE ANGELS!! xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Posted by Jaime Moorman on October 8, 2019
We are so saddened to learn of Peter's passing. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this most difficult time. Peter left a lasting impression in this world and he will be missed greatly. Our deepest sympathies, Bob Fetzer and the staff at Building Specialists, Inc.
Posted by Sandra Wenacur on October 8, 2019
We were so shocked and saddened to hear about Peter's passing.  Our hearts and thoughts are with you all, Mary,Marija,Tiana,Norm,Mark,John,Liza, Mateo, family and friends. Peter was a beautiful person in every way. He was so very caring and had a wonderful sense humor. We hope that all the wonderful memories will help all of you get through the difficult days. With love to all - Sandy & Joel Wenacur
Posted by Karlis Ozolins on October 8, 2019
In memory of the cousin I never had the opportunity to meet. I have always heard much about you, and read of your travels and professional life. Sadly, taken so young. Love to your surviving family members. Missed. But we will meet somewhere, sometime. Cousin Karlis, Victoria, Australia.
Posted by Van C Joffrion on October 8, 2019
Peter has been a friend since my wife, Margaret, and I met him in Antananarivo, Madagascar in 1984, 35 years ago. There was an instant bonding leading to a lasting and deep friendship.  Peter was a life giver. Everyone I know who met him became his friend. He was a very talented architect who worked in Africa helping missions and other worthy organizations. He was a loving husband and father. His sense of humor and love of life endeared him to all. He cared for and defended the down and out. His linguistic abilities were to be envied. He was also an author of a book on architecture for the developing world. We love Mary, Marija and Tiana and vacationed with them on Ocracoke Island many times. Peter designed our home in Blowing Rock, N C. What wonderful memories.  We are so happy that the Ozolins-Bakken family live close enough to us that we can visit regularly. I count Peter among the best friends I have ever had.
I will always love him deeply. May God give rest to his soul.
Posted by Alan Downie on October 7, 2019
I first met Peter as one of his students at Virginia Tech. His Parameters in Design class was a student favorite, I'm sure mostly due to Peter's engaging personality and intelligent wit. When he later came on board as an architect at the firm where I have worked since leaving Tech we shared many good-natured ribbings about who now had more authority! He exceeded all our expectations with his ability to be a team player here while developing his own numerous client relationships. He always took the time to reflect God's love and acceptance of all people in every interaction. I miss his chipper "Muy Buenos Dias!" greeting here each morning (he also helped me expand my Spanish), and his amazing sense of humor. He was the best of all of us. Our hearts are broken as our spirits look forward to the Day!
Posted by Lisa Gaylord on October 6, 2019
My heartfelt thoughts from Madagascar to Peter’s family, friends, colleagues and all the people who were so fortunate to know and spend time with this very special person.  I first met Peter and Mary in 1982 in Madagascar – and a strong bond was immediately created between us.  Over the last 37 years, Madagascar always remained a very special place for Peter and his family. 

With his strong linguistic ability, he quickly learned Malagasy that allowed him to communicate with people from all walks of lives that fit the life style of this gregarious and curious person.   This last weekend I travelled 4 hours from Antananarivo (Tana) to Ansirabe – a voyage often made by Peter- as he worked in designing buildings (schools, hospitals and others) throughout the country to serve the Malagasy people.   In the sprinter taxi, there was a group of young boys, Zaza Kanto, who were going to participate in a music festival in Ansirabe.  They were boys who began singing together on the streets of Tana and were then supported to formalize their group to become accomplished national and international performers.  Peter would have loved this story as it represented the values that he aspired in himself and those around him - to strive for the best and succeed. 

Madagascar was also a special place that intricately linked our families together.  This relationship deepened over the years as we shared many wonderful times and moments together – including parenting.   As the saying goes in Africa, it takes a village to raise a child.  Peter was always a strong, loving and giving member of our global family – as we grew and nurtured our families in Madagascar and explored together the landscapes and cultures in Tanzania.  In 2000, Peter, Mary and Marija opened their loving home in Blacksburg, Virginia to welcome my daughter, Sarah for 6 months and then their daughter, Tiana Marie, after spending the first year of her life with my family in Madagascar.  

Peter positively impacted the lives of so many people - not only in Madagascar - but across continents and countries.  His presence in the lives of all the people he touched will be sorely missed – his sense of humor, his never ending love and caring for people, and his strong commitment to a sustainable environment that he manifested as architect.  One of the most stunning buildings designed by Peter is the Valbio Research Center in Ranomafana that is perched looking over a rain forest with the roaring river below. 

And so….. Peter will continue to live on in each of us.  Over the weekend, I come across a favorite book of my mother’s , Many Winters by Nancy Wood that contains American Indian stories and poems.   This is one that I am sure that Peter is now reading to each of us.

A long time I have lived with you
And now we are going
Separately to be together

Perhaps I shall be the wind
To blue your smooth waters
So that you do not see your face too much.

Perhaps I shall be the star
To guide your uncertain wings
So that you have direction in the night.

Perhaps I shall be the fire
To separate your thoughts
So that you do not give up.

Perhaps I shall be the rain
To open up the earth
So that your seed may fall.

Perhaps I shall be the snow
To let your blossoms sleep
So that you can bloom in the spring.

Perhaps I shall be the stream
To play a song on the rock
So that you are not alone.

Perhaps I shall be a new Mountain
So that you can always have a home.

And so Peter has sailed onto a new horizon, but his sprit remains with each of us.  

Love and hugs to all.  

Lisa Gaylord and family
Antananarivo, Madagascar
Posted by Meg Conlon on October 6, 2019
I know there will be so many wonderful things said about Peter that reiterate the lovely tribute above. He was silly, yet incredibly thoughtful. Well traveled, but at home on his farm. Could be found reading a novel in another language then watching Funniest Home Videos with Mary. But, for me, he was above all else, a wonderful role model as a parent. From the time we first brought our daughter into his home, I watched the perfect balance of playfulness and boundaries, always guided by a limitless amount of love for his two daughters.  He was always patient with them and with us as fledgling parents.  His legacy -- two daughters who are silly, but thoughtful.  Well-traveled and at home where ever they are. Talented and wise. But, most important, able to form the types of friendships their father valued and fostered.

Leave a Tribute