Born in 1898, James Leek’s maternal grandfather worked for the Bernard Pels & Sons Pipe Organ Co. located in Alkmaar. As superintendent, he built and installed many pipe organs in the Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, and United States. His career in pipe organ building spanned over 50 years.
Opa Bakkum’s spirit guides James as he navigates those tight corners in the chambers and as he brings unyielding pipes back in tune.
John apprenticed with Fa. Bernard Pels & Zonen in ALKMAAR, the Netherlands. As a journeyman he worked at a number of firms, including: Vermeulen, Wattell, and Verschueren. He eventually returned to Vermeulen for 8 years, having left to honorably fulfill military service.
John emigrated to the United States in 1961 and applied for jobs at three American organbuilding firms, eventually accepting a position at the Walter Holtkamp Company in Cleveland, Ohio where he worked for three years. From 1964-1976 he was Curator of Pipe Organ at the prestigious Oberlin Conservatory. In 1976 he went into business for himself, from which he retired in 1992. Additionally John is an expert harpsichord builder His harpsichords are currently in use at the Oberlin Conservatory and many other locations in the United States and the world.
John frequently offers his wisdom and expertise to the company as a consultant on an as needed basis. John’s love of life is infectious as is his love of fine wines and chocolates.