Pete Gorrell - 2007 Al Stohlman Award Winner

Al Stohlman Award of Excellence for 2007 “Pete Gorrell”

It was a real privilege for Dottie and me to announce this year’s Al and Ann Stohlman Award recipients.  This is the 14th time to present the Al Stohlman Award and the 13th time to present the Ann Stohlman Award.

Pete Gorrell indeed follows right along in the footsteps of the Stohmans.  Pete and his wife, Helen have been a team for almost fifty years.  Helen supports Peter’s work wherever they travel as she shares his knowledge of leatherwork each step of the way both here and abroad.  His personal dedication to the art of leatherwork to the industry as a whole with his contributions and ideas are to be commended along with his dedication to be commended along with his dedication to his students everywhere as he shares his leatherwork skills freely, withholding nothing.  That is Pete Gorrell all the time, anxious to help.  This and much more qualifies Pete to receive this coveted medallion.

 Pete and Helen developed a business building and repairing saddles and tack.  Pete is also a noted silversmith as well.  Early in their married life Pete went off to college where he studied business and many courses in the study of the human body.  Later he was to apply this knowledge to saddlery.  He developed a new way to twist the fenders so that the pressure is removed from the rider’s knee, ankle and hip joints and several other innovations that can restore pleasure in riding.

Before Pete’s name was announced, all the past recipients were invited to the podium to welcome Pete into their number.  Of the sixteen people who have received the honor (during the time Dottie and I have been caring for this honor), twelve past winners were able to step forward: Robert Beard ’87, George Hurst ’91, Don King ’98 (absent), Peter Main ’98 (absent), Tony Laier ’99, Jesse Smith ’01, Jim Linnell ’02,  Dot and Bill Reis ’04, Chan Geer ’05, and Verlane Desgrange ’06.

Once everyone was at the front, I was pleased to announce the name of Pete Gorrell as the Year 2007 recipient.  Pete received along with the medallion, a Certificate honoring the day and a check for $1,000.  The check was made possible through the donations of leather businesses and individuals which are listed at the end of the Ann Stohlman Youth Award article of this issue.

Also, just “under the wire” before this issue went to press, we received a most moving and effectual letter from Pete which we’d like to share with you, our readers.

“Bill, Dot and Dave,

As days go by and the shock of being the 2007 Al Stohlman Award recipient wears off, I think of how much I am indebted to you and The Journal.  Your exposure and the change to share my views on saddle making and leather craft in general have been a great asset to my career.  I believe that I speak not only for myself but for many other craftsmen when I say ‘Thank you!’  The magazine and the shows you have sponsored have given all of us the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with other people whom we would have never met or communicated with otherwise.  This has helped me to pen my mind and look beyond my present boundaries.  The inspiration I have gotten from meeting and seeing the work of some of the finest craft people in the world through the “Leather Debut” is priceless and defies words.  Thank you so much for your efforts and all you have done for so many of us. 

Bill – your introduction referred to Helen and me as a team.  This was so true.  Although Helen is not an active leather craftsman, she is a part of everything that I do.  Without her, I would have never been able to do the articles that the LCJ has published.  Her encouragement and help has always been with me over the last half century.  She deserves this credit for what she has done and what we will be doing in the future. 

To the LCJ team – from Hele and me and many others out there in ‘Leather Land’ – Thank You!”

-Pete Gorrell

Reis, Bill. "Al Stohlman Award of Excellence for 2007 "Pete Gorrell"". Leather Crafters & Saddlers Journal  July/August 2007: p 42-43. Print.