On Sunday, September 6, 2020, I lost my hero: my father, Peter Robert Silverstone.
Unlike any other man I’ve met, he did everything well. Some people excel in business, some in sports; some are good humanitarians, some great family men, some strong community leaders… But my father did it all so well, with humility, class, generosity, intelligence, and kindness, never asking for anything in return.
I learned from him at an early age to treat people with respect, no matter their background or profession. I learned from him to work hard, with passion, energy, integrity, and commitment. I learned from him to give back. I learned from him to listen. I learned from him to always put family first. His 57-year marriage to my mom was a love story. So much so that it fueled in their children and grandchildren more love, confidence, and trust.
Peter was born in 1938 in Toronto Canada, the middle child of three boys. In his youth, he was very into sports, especially hockey which he played in the Junior League just below the Montréal Canadiens. He’d joke that at the time, he lived more in skates than in shoes. He was so good that he sometimes needed police protection because the French boys wanted to beat him up after games. He also won awards in water skiing and baseball. In later years he played tennis, winning a tournament just this past winter at age 81.
Peter’s business life was even more remarkable. Taking over his father‘s small clothing company when his father passed at a young age, he built it into a state of the art leader in its field. A visionary, he was the first to embrace European technology, hiring GFT (a major fashion manufacturer with brands including Armani, Valentino, Joseph Abboud) in the 1970s to help him build his new factory in Montreal. This new technology cut labor time by 30 to 40 percent while making clothes that were lighter and more stylish in the Italian way. He also worked with the industry to advance new rates and to encourage the unions to accept and work with modernized factories, ultimately giving Canadian factories the edge over U.S. factories in the ‘80s. He was the first to feature European brands, signing licensing arrangements with Karl Lagerfeld and many others.
My proudest moments were joining my dad in the ‘80s after college and working alongside him. Unlike some of my friends in the industry who had difficult relationships with their fathers in business, my dad was a teacher, mentor, and friend, patiently teaching and watching me grow into my own person. If he saw me making a mistake that could cost him money, he’d warn me but would allow me to make my mistake so I’d learn from experience. Even when I started my own business (Arnold Brant), my father stood beside me, guiding me always. Later in life, as I got involved in real estate and securities, it was always my dad who I turned to. He inspired me every day.
Besides being a wonderful father and husband, Peter was a generous humanitarian, giving back to society and to his fellow man both his money (he donated millions over the years) and his time.
But the most beautiful part of him was the bond he had with my mom for more than 57 years, the love and partnership they shared, planning, and strategizing every move together. From family to business to their personal lives to their charitable work, they were inseparable, as they were with their children. They loved us unconditionally, traveling with us around the world, giving us every opportunity to understand and experience life.
My father was my hero but I’ve learned this past week that he was also a hero to many others. How gratifying to receive letters from so many of his former employees, from university leaders, from professional colleagues, from people he played sports with, from random people who felt his kindness and generosity every day.
So, I miss my father, my best friend, my hero. May he rest in peace.