Even though my column was long put to bed when I first heard about Pierre Gazarian’s death last Tuesday, I had to find the time and space to write about the man.
When I arrived here more than 37 years ago, Pierre was already an Orient fixture, a silhouette who would forever leave an imprint in my mind’s eye. At that time, he would often randomly pop into the Gillooly house and quietly and covertly glean ideas about what his next real estate investment would be. At one point I swear he bought up half the bayfront properties and became an original “flipper.”
Pierre was a gentleman, very refined and dignified. After all, he was president of Renault North America, which really didn’t register since he was just a regular “local” who loved Orient and the hours he stole away from his life in New York City to be here. He told me he really wanted to be in Orient since it meant a better life for his dogs.
Pierre had a beautiful, melodious French accent that would command attention even if he were reading the phone book — though he’d more likely be reading his memorable poetry. He was a writer who often found humor and meaning in simple things, especially when it came to his beloved dogs, Nina and Lady. He gave his canines exceptionally good lives.
In trying to conjure more insight into Pierre, I spoke to a few Orient residents who were equally saddened by his passing. Fellow poet Billy Hands recalled many hours working with Pierre as they honed their writing skills and shared ideas. Early on, Pierre participated in Orient poetry nights. Billy spoke of one particular evening when all the other writers were presenting their collective prose, mostly for a $10 price tag. Pierre read a few of his works and then announced, for tonight only, a one-time opportunity: You can have my book for $5. He captured the lion’s share of book sales that night. That memory made Billy, who was eloquent in his praise of his creative colleague, chuckle.
Small towns are amazing places where a last name isn’t always necessary. A simple mention of Pierre was always sufficient. He was a true character, soft-spoken and kind, distinctive and unique.
Pierre was one of the first people I met when I arrived in Oysterponds and it saddens me to know he is gone. Godspeed, Pierre, you will be missed.
Courtesy photo: Pierre Gazarian