A 60 Year Old International Friendship: Artwork of Peter Thiele
Peter, a noted graphic artist in Nurnberg, in Southern Germany, was an exchange student at Moorestown Friends from the Rudolph Steiner School during the 1955-65 school year. He lived with the family of Rowland Ricketts ’57, whose mother Jean Ricketts taught English and directed the drama program.
For the 60 years since returning to Germany, Peter Thiele has remained in touch with the Ricketts family, sending hand-illustrated holiday greetings, calendars and gifts of his graphic art work.
Over the years, the Rudolph Steiner School has continued to send students to MFS, the most recent being the second-generation exchange students Maria ’06 and Yohannes Hohage ’08, children of exchange student Peter Hohage ’72 and niece and nephew of Christopher Hohage ’69.
After World War II, Moorestown Friends School nurtured student exchange relationships with schools in Japan and Germany, building bridges of understanding and friendship, through what was then known as The Affiliation Program, which was administered through the American Friends Service Committee. At that time, MFS students and teachers annually held a popular campus-wide “Friendship Fair,” which helped to support the program.
While Peter was visiting MFS, Moorestown Friends School student Martin Lehfeldt ’57 was visiting Germany for the year, as the first MFS exchange student to Germany.
When Peter Thiele arrived in Moorestown, World War II was still a vivid memory; VE Day in May 1945 had taken place just 10 years earlier. The son of a landscape architect, Peter was born in Germany in 1938 and grew up during wartime, one of four children. A talented artist and a friendly and outgoing boy, Peter made many lasting friendships when he came to Moorestown, with the Ricketts, Lehfeldt and Haines families, with many other students and teachers, especially his art teacher, Peg Cowan ’41, the Affiliation Club Advisor Floss Brudon, Social Studies Teacher Cully Miller and his wife Carolyn, and Headmaster Merrill Hiatt and his wife.
After spending a year at MFS, Peter returned to Germany to apprenticeship as a graphical craftsman for three years. From 1959-60, he did his military service. There followed three years as a student of Commercial Arts in Essen at Folkwangschule, and a further ten semesters of study of Fine Arts at the Arts Academy in Stuttgart, concentrating on book illustration and covers.