In Memoriam: J. Patrick Peacock, K.C.

  • January 18, 2023
  • The Hon. Madam Justice Johanna Price

Pat and Virginia, 1989

Virginia Engel, K.C. (L), and J. Patrick Peacock, K.C. (R) at the Canadian Bar Association Annual Meeting in Vancouver in August 1989.

J. Patrick (Pat) Peacock, K.C., past CBA Alberta and National President, passed away in Vancouver on December 4, 2022. I am deeply honoured to have been selected to compose this article in memory of him. It is a huge privilege to write about Pat “Peaco”, the man that we all knew to be outstanding in every possible way.

Pat has been fondly described as an amazing and incredible man; “a prince of a man”; “a true gentleman and exemplary lawyer – a lawyer’s lawyer and a legend in his own time”; “a model of professionalism and civility”; “influential and vibrant”; “a giant in our profession”; “a leader and an icon”.

A member of the CBA since he was called to the Alberta Bar in 1968, Pat was passionate and active in our association, serving as President of the Alberta Branch in 1983-1984 and then as National President in 1988-1989. Pat was considered the front man for the CBA for many years and contributed to many important CBA initiatives in his time, including chairing the Law for the Future Fund from 1986 to 1988, and leading the restructure of the CBA during his time as national president. He was a positive influence on all of us in the profession, and as the CBA’s biggest cheerleader, encouraged all lawyers to join, become active, and expand their communities.

Pat was the common thread, or as his wife Virginia calls him, “the golden thread” that connected us all. At CBA executive meetings he got the job done and he always did it in a positive and inclusive way. He brought you in as part of the team and made you feel like your voice mattered. At CBA functions, he was the life of the party and many of us can still picture him playing the piano and singing songs we could all sing along with. At any event, he could take a table of strangers and turn everyone into the best of friends.

Pat lived every day of his life with love and kindness in his heart and with respect for all. As said affectionately by a close friend, Pat was a true inspiration and role model for how to “carpe” the “diem”. He lived life large and without any regrets which spilled over to those of us who had the opportunity to work with him and as a result, we too lived incredibly good lives. He loved the CBA, which introduced him to a community of great friends and allowed him to share his wisdom and mentor so many of us to practice law in a professional yet friendly manner, always with civility and respect for others. It was also through the CBA that Pat met his soulmate and beloved wife, Virginia Engel, K.C., who also went on to serve as President of the CBA Alberta. Together Pat and Virginia were the CBA power couple, like royalty but even better as they were always approachable and inclusive.

I recall when Pat won the Distinguished Service Award for Service to the Profession in 2011, he was interviewed for an article and was asked the question “what is the biggest challenge in the practice of law?”. After the interview, he came into my office, and I was eager to hear his response. As Pat always did, he put me first and asked me what I thought about the question. After giving him my lengthy and tortured answer, trying in my way to impress him, I asked him what he said. He replied in one word: “winning”.

I think Pat’s response about winning is not just winning a case but winning in the broader sense - to Pat winning in court was a bonus, but it was really about winning at life and making sure that he had quality time with Virginia, his family and friends, his law firm - partners, associates, staff and clients alike - his law practice, colleagues and himself. Pat made sure that his glass was always more than half full. He fought to keep it that way with kindness, honesty, integrity, and humour right to his last breath. His gift was teaching us how to do the same. From the messages of love and support received by Pat’s family from CBA members, staff and others in the legal profession, it is clear that Pat was loved and revered by all who knew him. He won.

So, let’s celebrate the remarkable Pat Peacock: beloved friend, colleague, and mentor. He was one of a kind and to all of us at the CBA and beyond will always be absolutely and truly outstanding. Pat, we look forward to seeing you again and when we do, we will embrace you like you embraced each and every one of us, always with love, kindness and respect. We love you and miss you and will remember you always. Cheers to a life well lived by a man who loved us and who we all loved and respected so very much.

Written with loving assistance from Virginia, supported by the many comforting messages received from CBA friends and family.

The Honourable Madam Justice Johanna C. Price is a justice of the Court of King's Bench of Alberta in Calgary. Prior to being appointed to the bench in 2019, Justice Price served on the CBA Alberta Executive Committee.