Piers Wedgwood, who devoted his working life to the ceramic and decorative arts of the Wedgwood Brand as its international ambassador and keeper of the legacy of his fifth great-grandfather, Josiah Wedgwood, died yesterday of cardiac failure at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He was 59 and a long time resident of the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia, PA.
In a career spanning four decades, Lord Wedgwood helped navigate the fortunes of a 255 year old luxury goods company in its struggles to remain viable amidst the changing life styles of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. A veteran of two major reorganizations of the firm, Lord Wedgwood remained positive and excited as it grew in the modern age, with Wedgwood now opening major new markets in India, China and Russia as well as new product lines such as Wedgwood Tea.
Piers Anthony Weymouth Wedgwood, Fourth Baron Wedgwood was born September 20, 1954 in Nakuru, Kenya outside Nairobi on his family’s farm. He assumed the Wedgwood peerage at age 15 upon the death of his father in 1970. Educated in England at Marlborough and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Lord Wedgwood was commissioned in the Royal Scots Regiment in 1973 seeing action in Cyprus and retiring as a captain in 1980. He also received the general service medal for service in Northern Ireland.
Lord Wedgwood did not view his peerage as an honorific, instead acting as a working member of the House of Lords with more than 25 years service on the Defense and Heritage Parliamentary Groups.
An active sportsman, Lord Wedgwood was a member of the Royal Automobile Club of England, the London Racquet Club and the Philadelphia Club.
Above all however, the Wedgwood Brand was Lord Wedgwood’s passion, beginning in the business in his teens cleaning the pottery kilns and learning production methods. It was soon clear, however, that his charm, speaking ability and uncanny resemblance to his ancestor Josiah made him the ideal and nearly irreplaceable spokesman for Wedgwood. For many years, Lord Wedgwood was closely identified with Wedgwood museums in England and Birmingham, Alabama, which includes the Buten Collection, formerly of Philadelphia.
In a reprise of another Philadelphia fairy tale, Lord Wedgwood met his wife, the former Mary Regina Quinn of the Fairmount section of Philadelphia, when he was presenting Wedgwood at the Marshall Field Company in Chicago where she ran the store’s public relations. The ‘old English lord’ she expected turned out to be both a dashing 26 year old and the start of a 34 year love affair. Lady Wedgwood, and a daughter, The Hon. Alexandra Mary Kavanaugh Wedgwood and two sisters survive.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete.