Community mourns ‘giant of a man’

Denis Peyre enjoys a morning cup of coffee at A&W with friends on March 24, 2015.
Denis Peyre enjoys a morning cup of coffee at A&W with friends on March 24, 2015.

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

One of High Prairie’s most respected and leading citizens, affectionately know as a “giant of a man”, passed away suddenly July 18.

Denis Lawrence Peyre was 73.

Denis was born April 10, 1943 in High Prairie to Edmo and Violet Peyre. He was the oldest of four boys. After his parents passed away, Denis and his brothers were mentored and supported by his Uncle Arthur Peyre and Aunt Irene Peyre.

Denis always had a passion for agriculture, which he embraced and respected all his life. His early years revolved around the family farm, taking care of the cattle, spring seeding, making hay in the summer, combining in the fall, and the countless other chores that needed to be done.

The family raised championship purebred Hereford cattle; bull sales and showing cattle were a big passion of his. It continued into his adult life with his contributions to the local 4-H club.

In the summer of 1969 the Peyre family was awarded the Northlands Farm Family award. During the trip to accept the award, the family stopped to visit a local neighbour. It is where Denis officially met Jackie Fisher, who had just returned from Europe. Denis was hooked and they eventually married Oct. 27, 1973. They would raise two children: Brent and Trish.

After graduating from high school in High Prairie, Denis stayed and worked on the farm, but soon left to attend the University of Alberta and take a degree in business while in his mid-20s. In 1973, he returned home with his degree.

In May 1973, Denis was hired by John Deere and started training at their Parts Warehouse and Sales Division in Edmonton. Four months later, he was transferred to Ontario as a territory manager for an area around Lake Simcoe, north of Toronto.

However, Denis had other plans. He longed for the day he would own his own business and when the opportunity for a John Deere dealership came available in 1975, he decided to go for it. Denis and Jackie moved back to High Prairie and opened Peyre Farm Equipment Ltd. with partners Albert Miller, Bob Hicks and Rolly Sauve. The original building was 3,000 square feet, by 1980, an additional 6,000 square feet was added to expand the business and include a service department.

At that time, John Deere had started producing tractors that averaged 40 per cent more horsepower and 44 per cent more weight than six years previous. Sales of both farm and industrial equipment tripled and consumer-products sales soared fivefold from the previous 10 years. Denis had the business foresight to know that John Deere was the brand to be.

Denis’s brother, Wayne, purchased what became Deerline Sales in 1993 with his support. Denis was a mentor, providing his brother with encouragement and guidance in his early years with John Deere.

In 2005, Denis amalgamated Peyre Farm Equipment with Wayne and added the High Prairie dealership to Deerline Sales’ Barrhead and Westlock holdings.

In 2009, Deerline Sales merged with Martin Equipment/Martin Motor Sports forming MMD Sales Ltd with the John Deere side operating as Martin Deerline.

On July 24, 2015 Denis and High Prairie Martin Deerline celebrated the grand opening of their new 21,500 square foot building.

Community was huge to Denis until the day he died. Whatever was needed, Denis would pitch in and do, whether it was donating to a fundraiser or installing a wire jump line 30 feet in the air for the figure skating club.

Denis always tried to hire locally first, thinking of what was best for the community. To him, a customer’s problem was his problem and he wasn’t happy until the customer was happy,

He loved to quote Warren Buffet. “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things different” was a business model he preached and practiced.

A celebration of life for Denis Peyre was held at the Edmo Peyre Hall – named for his father – on July 25.

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