Peter David Sumner Dies; Piano Technician was 68

Category: Obituaries
Created on Tuesday, 24 September 2019 15:03
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Peter David Sumner

Peter (Pete) David Sumner, a piano technician who was known in Sitka, died peacefully at home in San Anselmo, California, March 29. He was 68.
Pete is survived by his wife Lynn O’Brien of San Anselmo; his brother Michael John Sumner and his partner Kelly Scott of Lincolnshire, England; and by his daughters Rachel Henry (Jay) of Cleethorpes, England, and Elizabeth Dungworth (Richard) of Melton Mowbray, England.
He is also survived by his beloved grandchildren, Ruby Henry, Archie Henry, Erin Henry, Ted Henry and Jack Dungworth.
Pete was born in Sheffield, England, April 21,1950, to Kathleen and Geoffrey Sumner. His family moved to Humberston near Cleethorpes in 1958 and he graduated from Clee Grammar School at age 16. After leaving school, he worked in the offices of the Ross Group on Grimsby fish docks.
He was a prominent member of Grimsby Folk Club and played there with many local musicians. In 1978 he moved to Bermuda to work for the Bank of Bermuda. In his time there, he immersed himself in music as a member of the Bermuda Folk Club, helping to bring numerous artists to Bermuda to perform and creating lifetime friendships in the process.
He returned to England in 1984 and continued in the music business professionally playing music and operating a music store.
In a pivotal decision in 1985 he enrolled in the Piano Tuning and Maintenance Program at Newark Technical College, graduating in 1988. He had found a vocation he loved and was started on his life path to becoming a   brilliant piano technician.
In 1998, following love and optimism, he moved to the United Sates and settled in southern California. He eventually moved to northern California and continued to work as a piano technician. He was proud to become a U.S. citizen in 2007.
The highlights of his career were his connection with Steinway Pianos, his position as curator of pianos at Stanford University, his five summers as the head piano technician at the Aspen Music Festival, and more recently at the Brevard Music Center.
His work also took him to Mexico, Colombia, China, Oregon, Arizona and Sitka.
He most loved his ability to launch new piano technicians into the world. He mentored other technicians and taught interns at Aspen.
He was a lifelong guitarist and a beautiful mandolin player. He had incredible artistic abilities as evidenced by his handmade bodhrans and leather guitar straps. He discovered the work of Alexander Calder and Joan Miro and was inspired by their art to create many mobiles and sculptures. He created gel prints, mixed media art pieces and recently learned welding to make masks from metal farm implement pieces. In 2018 he began book-binding and was enjoying learning that process.
His obituary would not be complete without mentioning San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He and his wife traveled there in 2015 and instantly fell in love with the community of artists, musicians and other like-minded people. They soon bought a house there and intended to spend several months a year there.
“Thanks to Hospice by the Bay for their support and care,” his wife said. “A special shout-out to Ken and Julie Hardin, Ann Rubin Close, Patty Cason, Mary James and Sandra Soklin and my many nurse friends too numerous to mention ... for being by my side throughout Pete’s illness and still continue to support me.”
Donations in Pete’s name can be made to: the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, Direct Relief and 4Ocean.