Home > In Memoriam > Peter Cummin – 1930 to 2005

Peter Cummin was born in 1930, the youngest of four children. I only know his parents from stories, but it appears that he inherited much of their outlook and many other characteristics. He was strong willed, forthright and forceful. But at heart – kind, gentle, well meaning, generous and loyal.

His father, Jack had left Poland with his brother with the intention of seeking a better life in America. In London they discovered that they only had enough money for one passage across the Atlantic and Jack stayed. He had been a miller and a chance discussion with feather merchant (about using milling to make flat feather useable by adding artificial curl) brought him into the feather business. The whole family was very conscious of the hostile atmosphere as war approached. Jewish children were routinely picked on and Peter learned to fight, sometimes defending younger children. After the outbreak of war he went with his mother and elder brother to the US.

It was in New York that Peter first showed an aptitude for business. Conscious that his mother had limited funds, he looked for ways of buying what he wanted. Amongst other things he developed and printed photos joining forces with a friend to run a next day delivery service. He had a life long interest in photography. Peter returned to England for his Barmitzvah. After matriculating he went into his father’s business. He learned fast, travelling widely in post-war Europe and branched out by himself. In the early 1950’s he bought a feather processing and purification business in the East End and some became his father’s largest customer. During this period he met and married Shirley; they had four children.

Their marriage was turbulent, but the love that he felt for the four children was clear from the stories he told about their antics. He was proud of them and it was a great pity that they became estranged from each other. The business continued to expand and it moved to Norfolk in the early 1970’s. this is where mum and I came to live some ten years later and I came to regard him as the father that I had always wanted.

He partially retired in 1993, remaining involved in the business until just before his death in August 2006. However, he was unable to enjoy a well-earned rest, as his illness increasingly sapped his strength during the last years of his life. He is much missed.

Joanna Cummin