Peter playing at Royal Orchard, at Sara and Stephen's wedding in 2006
Peter & Christopher playing Ruben James, Fun with Sam, Kakee & Peter
Kinloch Nelsons, Jolly & David deGive, Tommy Arrasmith, Alfred bagpipes,
Hamm & Dorn Scherer. Dixon Christian, Sally Hulcher...
Peter playing with Christopher, Reuben James
See Sara wipe her sticky fingers on the sofa!
Peter Stanley died on February 7, 2012 with Ginny and Meredith by his side.
We grew up at the Briary, the farm which is located directly across the Rapidan River. Most of you may think that the life of three brothers all born within a five-year time frame, living on a farm must have been a blissful experience. It was. But we had occasional fights—no more than six or seven within any given day. So, early on Dad established some rules: No biting and no clawing. Broken arms were okay so long as they were broken legally.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
My favorite memories of Dad were when our family lived at the Briary farm here in Rapidan when I was a kid. He was working intermittently as an alcoholism counselor, a musician, and in his guitar shop, which allowed him a great deal of time for me and my brothers. He taught us many things such as hunting, trapping, astronomy, bow and arrow making, blow gun making, pipe bomb making, distance shooting, rock climbing, canoeing, camping, music, woodcraft, knife making, animal training, wild bird raising, survival skills including tad pole swallowing, snake catching, wild mushroom eating, and more….
Dad was always the one in our family to make the speeches—not that the rest of us were particularly adept at being quiet, or ever at a loss for things to say. It was more a timing issue.
My uncle, Peter Stanley, died last night. He was a hero to me and to most people who knew him. He was an exceptional athlete, an adventurer, a gifted musician, and had a serious intellect. He loved his family, he loved to push his body to its limits, he loved to sing and play, and he loved a good laugh.
Sara Scott Adamson
Jimmy's dad, the invincible Peter Stanley, passed away peacefully last night. I wish I could hear the campfire songs being sung in heaven this morning...
Annie Plummer Stanley
Goodbye Uncle Peter. We love you. He set the tone for our family—and he had perfect pitch.
RIP Uncle Peter. May new adventures and songs await you where ever you are.
A tribute to one of the most remarkable men I know and a childhood hero: my Uncle Peter. A Harvard man who climbed Denali, built a cabin with his bare hands, and shot down a charging bear. He told the most fascinating stories and sang with the most amazing voice. He lived his 73 years on Earth to the fullest and will always be my inspiration to drink life to the most.
Dear Uncle Peter,
I know I've told you this before, but it can't be said too many times: you're the reason I became a musician. I wanted to play and sing like you did. Twenty-seven years of playing guitar later, I know that I will never play like you; but your music is in my heart and my head, always, and the longer I play, the more I get back to the place where it all began: sitting around a campfire, wrapped in blankets, over-full of Smores, listening to your beautiful voice and amazing guitar playing.
On my altar at home I have a number of beloved objects—pictures of me with my grandparents, the old coffee jar that my Grandfather Scott used to keep M&Ms in, various treasures found throughout the years—and one of the most precious is a picture of you and me playing guitar together in the barn at Royal Orchard (taken in 2004, I believe). I look at it every day and I think about the gift you gave me, when I was just a little girl sitting by a campfire, singing along with you & thinking you were the coolest guy in the universe and soaking up inspiration from you. Sometimes when I see it I remember seeing Christopher's little daughter Harper toddle across the firelight and kiss him while he played guitar—also at Round The World Rock, in 2009, the last time I saw all of you—and it makes me realize how this music has held us together across generations, even when other bonds have grown weak. Someday, sometime, one of my records is going to be called 'Hard Times In the Country', and that one will be dedicated to you.
You inspired me with your music and your musicianship, with your knowledge of the outdoors, with the amazing lists you made for your camping and climbing expeditions (I remember studying them in fascination when I came to stay with you as a teenager, and to this day, I don't pack for a trip without making a list first), with the easygoing happiness of your family—and with your constant kindness and sweetness to me.
I wish I had seen more of you, and I wish I'd told you more often how much you mean to me. You will be missed, and remembered; but I hope most sincerely that what lies next for you is another journey, another adventure, one without pain and full of joy. I send all my love to you and to your family, and I hope that all this night, in peaceful sleep, you dream of shady summertime, and old dogs, and children, and watermelon wine.
With love, your most devoted fan and almost-niece,
I just heard from my mother that you are not doing well. I would preferred to have written you a letter, but given that I am in France for the year, I thought that an email was the best way for you to get something quickly.
I want you to know,first and foremost, how much and often I think about you. One of the defining chapters in my life was when Billy and I moved to Alaska to build our cabin. My whole life, I had heard about your and Ginny's experience building your cabin, and it had always been a wonderfully entertaining and inspiring story. After we decided to try to follow in your footsteps, I remember coming to your house with Marianne, Billy, Philip and Mike Millner to watch a slide show and to talk to you about your experience. That was the first time I had really heard your whole life story—from riding a moose at Keewadin, to wrestling at Harvard, to Army intelligence in Vietnam, to the protest movement in Boston, to Merrill Lynch, to Alaska, and then back to Virginia.
Since then,whenever people people have asked me how we decided to build a cabin in Alaska,I always start with your life story. I don't claim to possess the talents that you do, particularly on the musical front, but there is something about your life story that has always made me feel a special kinship to you. Other than the obvious connections of wrestling and Alaska, there was a restlessness about you, a desire to have non-conventional experiences and chapters in your life, that I see in myself.
I will always remember when you kindly joined us at our cabin in 2001 for the 10 year anniversary of the building of our cabin. I remember seeing 15-20 people gathered around the campfire listening to you and the many other musical people play songs until the wee hours of the evening. While I will always wish that I could have heard you play in the Fairview Inn when you and Ginny lived in Alaska, I consider it a great honor to have had you visit and play in our neck of the Alaskan woods.
The last time I heard you play was at Royal Orchard in September of 2008. You were staying in Clover Cottage with Alfred. After the picnic, Dad, Jack and I sat on the front lawn of Clover and listened to you and your boys play and sing. It was a beautiful evening. It may not have been that different from many of your musical sessions with your family, but it was magical for us. We knew that Dad would probably die shortly and that this was probably our last time at Royal Orchard with him. He had such a wonderful time listening to you that night,as did I.
Thank you for that night, and for the inspiration that you have provided for me over the years. You are one of my heros and I will never forget you.
I am very sorry to hear about Peter. He was an inspiration to me in so many ways and I considered him a good friend. He was always the first person I would seek out at the Christmas party. I wanted to hear the stories I had heard before, new ones, or just talk about what was happening in the world. We had so many common bonds and interests that it was great to be with him. Alaska represented so many important things that I admired in Peter. It was a place that welcomed free spirits, let us experience new things, gave us true adventure, and allowed a special camaraderie with friends that can only be found by living simply. Peter stood so tall in my eyes, and he resonated with me on so many levels that I never saw him in the context of his family or community, I only saw him as a true individual and a deep source of imagination, light and strength. I liked knowing him and being around him. I will miss him but he will live with me for the rest of my life. Thank you and thanks Peter.
I wish you well over the next few months. I know once you have grieved he will sit with you as a source of inspiration and strength.
Meredith, Sara and Kakee,
We are so sorry to hear about Peter's death. He was an awesome man, and speaking as someone who loves music, family, adventure and nature, I mean that quite literally: he was awe inspiring to me. He inspired thousands of people who want to live a life closer to music and family and nature but may choose not to because they are afraid or lazy or distracted. He was none of those things. He was courageous and energetic and laser-focused on what really mattered in life. At least that is how I saw him and will remember him, and I suspect most will agree with me. He would be on my short list of "men who I would like to be like" and even though I know it is better now that he (and others around him) can rest from his struggle, it is still a hell of a loss to this world and our family and our community. I really really hope that in his death people will be reminded of how much courage and energy it takes to be our best selves, and will rededicate themselves to that purpose in his honor.
I cannot imagine that we will see you all this Sunday at home here in NYC or Monday at school, but please know that we love you all and I really feel sadness that Peter Stanley is gone. That said, we will rejoice in his memory and I am going to try to learn some of his songs on the guitar.
Murray & Em Fisher
Not long after we talked Peter moved on, and as hard as it is to
realize he isn't with us anymore we have to be glad for him to be released from that atrocious, life-sucking disease.
I am deeply saddened to hear that you have lost your precious brother Peter. What a guy. What a talent. What talent you were together and what a very special family you all made together with your love of music and family. I will always hold Alfred's cd of your music as very special, and I got one for Erin and Jesse out on Salt Spring and I have heard them play is it with pleasure. A true legacy made with respect, affection and love.
Peter will always stay on in the hearts and minds of those he touched in his not-quite-long-enough life. He is not gone. Just departed.
With love to all of you and mostly to Ginny with whom I will be in touch once I get my new hip in ten days.
I just saw Peter's obituary in the newspaper, and I regret that I cannot come to Rapidan on Sat. I will be out of town.
I know the recent past has been a long, hard slog for both of you, and I am glad that you both will finally get some peace from those troubles.
But, I know you and your family must be grieving for Peter's death, and I guess it must have been frustrating to watch Peter struggle so in recent years, given all that had gone before.
My earliest memories of Peter are of this banjo-picking wizard who showed up at the Philadelphia Quarry Club one day (where I was lifeguarding) and proceeded to dazzle all of us with his banjo skills and swimming stamina. I will never forget that! I shall truly miss the person who so impressed me so long ago. Peter was also the first person I ever knew who had a recumbent bike, and I was sorely tempted to buy one for myself after talking to him at length about it. I decided to just give up bike-riding instead!
I will be thinking of all of you these days, and I am truly sorry for your loss.
Dennis Brown, Ginny and Peter Stanley
Peter has been on by mind lately. I wrote the pilot for Northern Exposure. Your dad's character is Walt. I never got to tell him. I always thought I would get around to it and now I can't. Carol and I spent the day crying and listening to his music when we discovered he was gone. You have wonderful parents. Your mom was the prettiest lady I've ever met. I am so sorry for your loss.
The Northern Exposure character based on Peter was "Walt Kupfer" played by Moultrie Patten. Walt appeared on the show in the following episodes
Season 4 (1993)
Season 5 (1993-1994)
Season 6 (1994-1995)
Dennis Brown also wrote the book "Talkeetna Good Time" about his experiences in Talkeetna.
Peter and Ginny Stanley built a cabin in Talkeetna in the 1970s and when we did our first record in 1975, we needed a 'record company'—so we called ourselves Talkeetna Records. When we created the Peter Stanley Collection of his music in 1998, we started the Talkeetna.com website to promote the music.
With the advance of Parkinson's disease in Peter, we decided to shut down Talkeetna Records. We are leaving these stories of Peter on the Rosegill website.
Peter Stanley's music is available in the iTunes music store, and you can hear samples on YouTube—just search for Peter Stanley, and you'll find it. To purchase a Peter Stanley Collection, please contact Alfred Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org