Saturday, April 18th 2015.BMG: On April 16, 2015, Belizeans lost a legend of a man. A pioneer, a visionary and an inspirational leader, Mr. Peter Tonti’s recent passing has left many of those who knew him in shock, disbelief and deep sadness.
So great was his love for the country, so firm was his faith in its potential, that Mr. Tonti led, shaped and inspired the country’s biggest economic asset: its tourism industry, ultimately playing a pivotal role in its direction and flourishing success.
A renaissance thinker to all those who knew his work and witnessed the legacy he left behind firsthand, Mr. Peter Tonti lived by example, quietly yet aptly guiding his colleagues, friends and staff alike with a wisdom, kindness and forward thinking style that consistently left everyone better for it.
Mr. Tonti first arrived to Belize as a Peace Corps volunteer in the 1970s. His instant love affair with the country was so deeply rooted, that he couldn’t leave, and decided to make Belize his home. It wasn’t long before he was working in Belmopan to help build and fashion Belize’s new capital with the Reconstruction and Development Corporation, and joined the Belmopan Convention Hotel in 1983.
At his passing, Mr. Peter Tonti was Chief Advisor to the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), the country’s tourism watchdog he helped found in 1985.
He served on the Inter-American Development Banks Civil Society Consulting Group for Belize and on the Board of the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) from 2010 to 2013, and led the luxury resort, The Lodge at Chaa Creek into its glory years when he served it as CFO from 1998 to 2013, before ultimately taking the reigns as CEO at the awe-inspiring hilltop Cahal Pech Village Resort.
In 2013, with the help of young online marketing mastermind Larry Waight, he also helped found Belize Media Group and BelizeGlobe.com, the country’s fastest growing media house. The thriving breaking news site has quickly become one of the world’s best examples of the power of citizen journalism in recent years, already reaching over a million readers in less than a year of its founding.
But perhaps what Mr. Peter Tonti will be most remembered for is not only the legacy he left for the nation’s media and tourism industries, but the legacy of selfless kindness he left in the hearts of those who knew him.
“If all he did was contribute to the new capital of Belize, that would have been enough,” says Tanya Silva, General Manager at Cahal Pech Resort. “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.”
“He was a giant of a man,” says Cahal Pech Village Resort chairman and owner Daniel Silva. “He was someone who left both the world and Belize a better place. 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,” says Silva.
“I’m devastated: I can’t imagine a Belize tourism world without him.” ~ Dan Silva
Long ago, before he died, Mr. Tonti was once asked, how he wanted to be remembered. He sat back for a moment, thought briefly, and finally said:
“I’ve led a humble life. I only ask to be remembered in other people’s hearts as someone who came along and unselfishly helped them,” he 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.”
And to many, that is exactly how he will be remembered.
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, 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.
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