Snakepit owner Peak succumbs to cancer

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Whether he was surprising patrons at his landmark Snakepit restaurant and bar with free huckleberry ice cream after dinner, or giving folks tips about what’s happening along the Coeur d’Alene River, Joe Peak loved to make people happy.

Peak, 66, died on Saturday after a seven-year battle with cancer.

“He had the gift of gab and was always interested in what everybody else was doing,” said daughter Jacque Haler. “He’d always ask, ‘How’s your family, your kids and your grandkids?’ When people wanted to know what’s going on, they gave him a ring and he’d tell them. The valley won’t be the same without him.”

The Enaville Resort, commonly known as the Snakepit, was established in 1880 and has been Peak’s home since he bought it in 1978. The landmark is for sale and closed on Nov. 5 with the exception of the bar on Saturdays.

Peak made it to the 35th running of the Turkey Trot 5-mile run on Thanksgiving on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes next to the Snakepit.

This year, with Peak battling cancer, the race was in doubt. His wife, Rose Mary, died in January due to cancer. But Peak’s many friends decided to hold the run to help Peak pay medical bills.

“He really wanted to get out there for that,” Haler said. “He lived for seeing his friends and customers of the Snakepit. I’m so glad he was able to get there. That was his last big hurrah. From there, he declined pretty quickly.”

After nine days in rehabilitation at Life Care Center, Peak was transferred to Hospice House in Coeur d’Alene on Friday.

“Typically people with his diagnosis (multiple myeloma) live another two to five years ... boy was he a fighter until the very end,” Haler said, adding that Peak had a stem cell transplant in February 2011.

Haler said her father was a generous, hard-working man who loved to please everybody.

She recalls him making a catered meal with a motorcycle club still work with her wedding on the same day in 2004.

“(The meal) was such a tradition that he was adamant about accommodating both of us,” Haler said.

Haler said details on services for Peak haven’t been determined and depend on when her brother, Father Jimmy Peak, can return from Afghanistan.

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