This online memorial was created in loving memory of Peter Zinner, whose life story is told throughout this memorial website. Please sign Peter's guest book and let us know you came to visit. We will remember Peter forever.
PETER ...ZINNER WAS A HERO IN MY "GRADEBOOK" OF LIFE! There aren't too many others in the grade book I am keeping. In the dark, stormy waters off TORTOLA, in the British Virgin Islands in 1976, I was in a small dinghy with PETER ZINNER and two other Concordia students and a captain of the vessel. The Tiki was a three masted schooner we had rented for a week of sightseeing and scuba diving. The other nineteen students on the trip had already left the dock for the Tiki before us. We were the last to leave. As we pulled away from the dock I assumed the other students were already safely aboard the Tiki. Our dinghy ranged far into the Caribbean out of sight of land. With no Tiki yet visible our captain began violently rocking the dinghy apparently attempting to fill it with water to swamp it, and drown at least some of us. For us from Concordia it seemed evident he was trying to sink the boat and us on it. I did not know if anyone else could swim, and the students were beginning to panic. What had he had done with the other Concordia students before us? Did they ever make it out to the Tiki? Were they now drowning in the Caribbean?
Thus it was NOT a knee jerk reaction! I did weigh it, consider it, and finally shout out to PETER with all the authority I could muster from my shaking voice: "PETER, IF HE DOES NOT STOP SWAMPING THIS BOAT, THROW HIM OVERBOARD! I MEAN IT!" True the captain might drown, but at this point it was either him or us. Peter, a Concordia football player, overpowered him and took control of the dinghy until we made it out to the Tiki in the darkness. We hurriedly scampered aboard the Tiki as the captain quickly returned to the dinghy and retreated back into the darkness. He left us on a sinking Schooner filling with water! The crew of the Tiki had opened up valves to swamp the vessel and had thrown the motor overboard. There was no radio or emergency equipment on board. We were left to spend the night buffeted by the wind and waves on a Schooner out of control. The next morning, providentially, a British Coast Guard vessel passed within hailing distance and took us all aboard and back to land. There were many brave students during that harrowing trip, but to me, Peter had shown the most bravery, taking over the dingy when we were in danger of capsizing and drowning.
Peter stayed in contact with me over the years! He had a difficult time finding a job that suited his nature. Finally he found something that challenged him. He learned to fly and forged a career as a pilot flying private and commercial planes out of Teterboro and White Plains airports. Peter was an ENGLISH MAJOR in my department at Concordia, a student in many of my classes, a football player, somewhat of a "hell raiser" on campus and maybe even a party animal. I do hope that fellow students at the time can add many more memories to this memorial so we can all have a greater understanding of Peter.
Early this year I got a call from another former student saying that Peter had died around Christmas Day, and his body was left UNCLAIMED at a Westchester hospital. By so many providential connections, thanks to Kathy Dresser, Doug Byrne, Pastor Hartwell, and the Westchester Funeral Home in Bronxville, we were able to get him out of the hospital morgue, a proper funeral, a fine casket, and burial in his family's plot in Kensico.
No one could have foreseen this having a proper and certainly not a happy ending.I guess you don't add "Hero" to a gravestone, but I wanted to be sure it was alluded to somewhere, sometime. A VIRTUAL MEMORIAL MIGHT BE JUST THE PLACE
Prof. Dr. Tom Sluberski