Peter A. Krusch, 87, of Cambridge died at home May 19, 2018.
He was a master artist blacksmith who created unique works, ranging from chandeliers to dragons. He was the father of three, an organic farmer, avid skier, lifelong traveler, political activist, and beloved husband of his wife, Sally, for 25 years.
He was the only child of Marlies and Herbert Krusch, who immigrated separately from Germany, met and married in New York City in 1930. Peter was born March 21, 1931. The family returned to Berlin, Germany, when he was a toddler, unfortunate timing.
Peter’s father, grandfather and uncle were arrested for running a (suddenly illegal) liberal printing press after Hitler came to power. His parents barely escaped the Nazi regime by fleeing to Denmark and eventually back to the U.S., where Peter grew up in New York City and New Jersey.
Farming was always a passion for him; he graduated from the National Agricultural College (now Delaware Valley University) in Doylestown, Pa., in 1952 — the first college graduate in his family and their circle of friends.
His spirit for travel and adventure started early. He hand-built his first pair of skis, rebuilt a Model A Ford at age 14, and hand-forged his first ironwork (a candlestick for his mother) in the family furnace.
In 1956, he and his first wife, Anne, drove to Alaska, where they lived for three years while he worked for the Bureau of Land Management, traveling throughout the territory, researching and processing homesteaders’ land claims before statehood. They saved enough money to buy a farm in Vermont — and to take a very low-budget yearlong trip to Europe, covering thousands of miles by motor scooter.
On their return in 1958, he purchased the farm in Cambridge where he lived the remainder of his life, raising his children in the old farmhouse, creating works of art, keeping an organic garden, living in as self-sufficient manner as possible, nurturing the land, and in 1988 building a new house with his own hands next to his waterfall, using wood cut from his land.
When he and Sally married in 1992, he added a dining room and a large screened porch to the house.
A remarkable man, he lived a rich, full life. Before focusing on blacksmithing, he utilized his agricultural background in operating a large poultry farm. He could always build, repair or weld anything.
In 1968, he became Peace Corps staff and ran the agricultural program in Sierra Leone, moving his wife and family to live in West Africa for three years. On his return, he took up blacksmithing full-time and combined the ancient methods of forge and anvil with modern welding techniques to produce unique, perfectly crafted, beautiful works in iron and copper.
With his fertile imagination and skill, he created fire-breathing dragons, weathervanes, chandeliers, traditional ironwork and much more. His butterfly weathervane was featured in a Smithsonian magazine article. He was an acclaimed artist, in many juried shows, and was a leader in the Vermont Crafts revival movement in the 1970s.
His love for travel was lifelong, from an around-the-world backpacking trip with Sally in 1989 to a second around-the-world trip with son Gregory in the 1990s, crossing Russia, Siberia and Mongolia on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. Twice he and Sally lived in Bolivia, working with graduate students to establish a natural history museum.
He had two 1980s vintage VW vans in which he loved to travel and camp, returning to Alaska in 2010 and traveling across country to Colorado many times. He and Sally were just completing a three-week trip through wild areas of New Mexico and Colorado when he was felled by a stroke. A MedFlight transportation from a Denver hospital back to Vermont made it possible for him to spend the last 10 days of his life in the peaceful surroundings of his home, attended by his family and the Bayada Hospice nurses.
Survivors include his wife of 25 years, Sally Laughlin; his son Ernest Krusch and significant other Jane Tulloh of Cambridge; his son Gregory Krusch and significant other Cameron Riley of Fort Collins, Colo.; his daughter Nancy (Krusch) Spier of Jericho; three grandchildren, Elizabeth Spier, Ethan Spier, and Sean Krusch and fiancée Jesse Hill; his cousin Dr. Professor Eckart Wernicke and family of Frankfurt, Germany; and dear friends, foremost of whom is Bob Brunette.
His intention was to make a portion of his land (including brooks, ravines, forest and hilltop field) adjacent to the Cambridge Pines State Forest into a permanently protected natural area for the town of Cambridge, working with the Cambridge Conservation Commission. Donations in his memory should go the Vermont Land Trust, specified for the Peter Krusch Memorial Fund for the protection and stewardship of land in Cambridge. Send to: Vermont Land Trust, 8 Bailey Ave., Montpelier, VT 05602.
A celebration of Peter’s life will be held on Sunday, July 15, at 2 p.m. at 140 Forge Drive in Cambridge, to which all friends are invited. To share memories: awrfh.com.