With heavy hearts, we share with you the unexpected loss of Michael Langknecht, an integral, valued, and beloved member of the Peterman’s family. Mike passed away unexpectedly on January 15th.
Mike’s sudden passing has left all of us at Peterman’s shocked, mourning, and reflecting on our many years with him.
Spencer and Mike began working together in 1999 when, with the help of a business grant, they partnered up to purchase a property in Turners Falls. The building at 22 3rd Street was the home of their respective first businesses: Spencer wove baskets, and Mike built architectural frames and mirrors.
As Spencer’s business grew, Mike began crafting wooden boards for Peterman’s, eventually moving into a full-time position. In 2012, when Peterman’s opened the Gill workshop and showroom, Mike remained on his own at our Turners Falls location, making boards, tossers, trays, and napkin rings.
Mike’s creative and technical contributions to Peterman’s are incalculable. He applied his design skills to a number of Peterman’s products, notably our salad tossers, and was particularly adept at handling challenging custom orders.
As a woodworker, Mike was meticulous. “He could just look at a piece of wood and know exactly what he could do with it,” recalls Marie, our production manager. “For our largest round boards, which require two pieces of wood, you wouldn’t even be able to tell where the wood was joined. He had a real eye for detail.”
Born in 1959 in upstate New York and raised in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Mike attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he studied theater. While Mike ultimately found a career in woodworking, an often solitary pursuit, his theatrical side still emerged when he was in a group.
Mike was known for entertaining his coworkers at the annual Christmas party with his hilarious, original versions of classic carols. “Silver Bells” became “Spalted Bowls” and “The Twelve Days of Christmas” became “The Twelve Days of Peterman’s,” with lyrics highlighting (and poking good-natured fun at) fellow employees.
“He had an incredible wit, and a deep kind of radio voice,” remembers co-owner Michele Jurado. “He was very bright, with a unique sense of humor.”
Marie recalls their daily banter fondly. “He had absolutely hilarious one-liners. We had a great rapport.”
Mike is remembered by his coworkers for his great sense of humor as well as his fantastic work ethic and attitude. He was someone who always went the extra mile, was always ready to help with last minute needs, and was both consistent and reliable. He was easy to get along with and despite working at a separate location from the rest of the staff, “he was just such a presence,” says Marie.
Outside of his career in woodworking, Mike was also deeply involved in his local community, serving for 17 years on the Gill-Montague School Committee.
Mike leaves his wife of 39 years, Stacey, who he met at NYU, and their three children, Shayna, Jesse, and Troy.
Mike, we love you and you will be missed.
–All of us at Peterman’s