EXCERPT FROM EMIL MILAN: MIDCENTURY MASTER:
Emil taught at Peters Valley Craft Center (now Peters Valley School of Craft) in Layton, New Jersey, from its inaugural year, 1971, through 1984. Located inside the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Peters Valley is an unusual collaboration between a nonprofit organization and the National Park Service. Emil spent considerable time there, particularly in the summers, whether he was a paid staff member or not. His stays often extended into the fall. One year, he was there during the winter because his heating system back home in Thompson had failed.
He set up his workshop in a garage near the woodworking studio and he lived either in the dorms or with someone else nearby. He was paid for teaching classes and when not formally teaching he made enough money from sales in the craft shop to get by. He was there so much that many Peters Valley staff members regarded him as a “fixture.”
Emil’s classes at Peters Valley were always full. The school’s historian Kevin Perry reported that his students were so enthusiastic they overlooked the occasional shortages of tools. Emil regaled them with his stories and when he veered far off track, he seemed to be able to link back to what they were supposed to be learning. “It was more like a salon than a class,” said Perry. When not in class, Emil would spend the entire day from early morning until late evening at his shop. Students, staff members, and other instructors stopped by all day long with questions, problems, or just to chat. He was active in the School’s community and often mediated disagreements that arose between various Peters Valley committees and the National Park Service. According to Karl Seemuller, “He was a voice of reason. It was a good, calming voice.” In a fledgling craft school with diverse growing pains, he contributed vitally to planning and problem solving.