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Steve Tengelsen

steven tengelsen at Penland
Steve Tengelsen in the Penland wood studio with a piece he made for the Penland auction in 2007.

Steve Tengelsen, who had a house and studio near Penland for a time and took care of the school’s wood shop as studio coordinator for several years, died last week of metastasized melanoma. Steve was a soft-spoken man who smiled a lot and favored Hawaiian shirts. He was an excellent cabinet maker and furniture builder.

Steve had an M.A. from San Diego State and had been a resident at Anderson Ranch in Colorado and the Appalachian Craft Center in Tennessee. After he left Penland, he settled in Asheville where he lived, he said, “in a cool old home in a historic neighborhood with the lovely Helen and our two cats, Mica and Mister White Purr.” Steve taught workshops regularly at the John C. Campbell Folk School, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Peters Valley Craft School, and other venues.

He had some warning that the end was near and spent his last few months in the company of friends and his long-time partner, Helen Purdum. In August, he sent a note to his friends with a cheerful update on his rather grim medical situation. He signed off with this advice: Get physical. Exercise. Wear a hat. Eat ice cream. Love, Steve


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