There is one less songbird among us. Peter Steven Norlander, 60 years old, passed away on April 30, 2020. Peter was fortunate to be born into a family for whom adventure was the norm. He and his four siblings were all born in Thailand, not only exploring Thailand, but visiting many other countries before moving to the States full time when Peter was 13 years old. After high school, Peter again felt the urge to explore, and moved across the country to Montana to work at Lone Mountain Ranch. There he met the love of his life (though admittedly it took him a little while to realize it).
In 1984 Peter decided to move to Alaska "to become a hermit". By later that year he (as he liked to say) "realized that life without Nancy was stupid". With much delight they were married in 1985, living on the Olympic Peninsula for a couple of years until it was time to move home to Montana where they lived in the Gallatin Canyon before moving to Livingston. Here Peter graduated from MSU where he was in the Honor's Program of Interdisciplinary Studies, creating his own course of study in Water Policy Analysis.
Those who knew him in these early years remember his quick wit, his warm smiling eyes, his laughter that always sounded like he was up to something, and his lovely whistle. He was a kind, generous man, who worked a variety of jobs in his life, oft-times focused on wood. He liked creating beautiful things - whether joints in a log house, hand-made log furniture or happy guests. Most recently, he worked with and for his friend Curt doing communications cabling throughout the region.
It was during a visit with his parents and his brother here in Montana that Peter found his passion for birds. His whistling ability came in handy as he took to studying bird song. He got quite a reputation with his beloved Audubon friends. He served for many years as a board member and as president of Sacajawea Audubon, as well as a board member with Montana Audubon. He proudly led the Owl Prowl from Bozeman each spring, did Osprey Surveys every spring and fall, and took part in four Christmas bird counts each year.
Peter was so bright and alive. It was such a sad surprise when we learned, in his early 50's, he'd developed Behavioral variant Frontotemporal Dementia, for which there is no treatment. It was soon no longer safe for him to be at home alone, which necessitated his move to a memory care facility, where he continued feeding and watching his bird friends as long as he could. Thank you so much to the Edgewood Belgrade caregivers for your love, your caring and your most excellent hugs. Thank you too to Bozeman Clinic Hospice for your compassionate care.
Peter is survived by his wife Nancy, his mother Jeanne, siblings Susan (Joel) and Lindy, nieces Raven (daughter Tillia) and Jim, Birch (JD & daughter Helen) and nephew Rowan (Hannah), and his Montana family (in-laws), Bob and Vivian, Laura (Lily & Sage), and Judy Schaap. He was preceded in death by his father Harry, sister Karen and brother Andy.
Think of Peter when you hear the birds sing. If you'd like, you may donate to Sacajawea Audubon, Montana Audubon or to The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (theaftd.org) in his honor. We’ll have a service for Peter later this summer, for friends to gather and share memories.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Peter S. Norlander, please visit our floral store.