Peter Jay Leach, legendary St. Paul potter, founder of the Northern Clay Center, man of diverse interests, died Jan. 17, 2021 at age 87, after several years coping with Parkinson’s disease.

He is survived by his wife, Nan Skelton, his children Ben Leach (Beth Sullivan) and Julia Leach, stepsons John Skelton (Kelly) and David Skelton (Julie Wendt), three grandchildren and the mother of his children, Marolyn Charpentier.

Peter, who stood 6’6″, had to be made big in order to hold his talents, passion, energy and enthusiasm, but most importantly his huge and generous spirit. Founder of the Northern Clay Center in 1988 and life-long mentor, Peter pursued his work as potter for 40 years. His plates, bowls and cups conveyed the spirit of their creator—unique, comfortable, solid, yet graceful. His art has enriched the lives of many for decades.

In 1972 he started The Sogn Valley Craft Fair on his farm. After several years it outgrew the farm so he moved it to the Edgewood Inn in Cannon Falls. Now, 49 years later, the annual Fair still draws craft lovers. Peter was a man of wildly varied interests, which he pursued with gusto—The Grateful Dead, morel mushrooms, cribbage, Al’s Breakfast Shop, photography, Japanese gardens and more.

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