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May 2016 – Page-3 – Peter Blem

In the “whatever happened to”, or perhaps in this case, “who is…” department we want to take a close look at another member of the Unity. This time it is Peter Blem (1880-1936).

Peter Christian (or Kristian) Blem was born in Svaneke, Denmark, the child of Jeppe Hansen Blem and Anine Kirstine Ipsen. The town of Svaneke is described as:

Svaneke (Swencke in 1410, from old Danish swan swan and *wīka inlet) is a small town on the eastern coast of the Baltic island of Bornholm, Denmark.

It is Denmark’s easternmost and until few years ago the smallest and now the second smallest (only Ærøskøbing is smaller) chartered town with a population of 1,059 as of 1 January 2014.[1] With its charming half-timbered houses and narrow streets, it is one of the island’s most cherished beauty spots ((1))

Peter sailed from Copenhagen on the S.S. United States on April 8, 1909. He apparently lived in California for a time before coming to Estero. It is unclear just how he heard about the Unity. Peter is one of those Koreshans who joined the Unity after the death of Dr. Teed which seems, in my way of thinking, to make for a more dedicated believer. Peter’s skills were in art and painting. He served the community by creating backdrops for the many plays and presentations in the Art Hall. He also spent time helping with the bee colony. The July 1916 “Community Current Events” column mentioned Peter’s talents not only with scenery, but with the painting of Unity buildings.

The Planetary Court has been transformed in its appearance by a coat of paint;
the body color is yellow, the trimmings green, and the screen doors and window screens black. Brother Peter Blem, our painter, is busy at present painting “The Estero,” which is now being over-hauled. The next big job of painting will be the dormitory; with good walks, a new bridge, and newly painted buildings, the esthetic appearance of things here will be greatly enhanced.

Beside the “regular” painting, Peter also did some paintings that were placed in the Dining Hall. This excerpt from the November 1922 “Community Current Events” said:

Another excellent contribution before the Birthday was two paintings.; one of the Log House (the first dwelling house put up at the Unity) and one of a cypress scene, both done by our local artist, Brother Peter Blem. We are not an authority ,on painting, but it is hard for us to conceive how these paintings could be improved upon. Brother Peter has produced two paintings that surely meet with the general approval. They grace the walls of our Dining Hall, and, like everything that is done well, are exceedingly restful to the eye.

Peter began getting ill about a year or two before his death on May 12, 1936, just a few weeks shy of his 56th birthday. He was buried in the Korehan Cemetery (now the Pelican Sound Cemetery). After his death, his sister placed a stone on his grave, which is still here (unlike many of the other Pelican Sound graves). The October 1936 Community Current Events column wrote:

Peter Blem Grave (from "Find-A-Grave)

Peter Blem Grave (from “Find-A-Grave)

Peter Blem had loved ones in Denmark, who, since his passing, wish to commemorate his memory by placing a marker on his grave, and which his sister, Miss Ellen, made possible by furnishing the wherewithal. Miss Blem had promised to visit her brother here, and now she writes of the strong attachment between them. To know Brother Peter was to love him, for he was unquestionably one of the finest characters we have ever known and was universally liked by all who came to know him. To say that he is greatly missed, and particularly at this time, does but half express it, for he eagerly looked forward to the Master’s Birthday and took the lead in decorating the Art and Dining Halls for the occasion. ((2))

  1. From Wikipedia []
  2. Flaming Sword, October 1936 []

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