Sunday, July 15, 1990

Obituary: Rodney Scheel

MADISON - Rodney Scheel, owner of Madison's popular Washington Hotel complex, died on July 12, 1990 of AIDS-related health problems. He was 39. He is survived by his partner of over 20 years, Dr. Warren Olson; and by his parents, Jo and Doc Scheel; his sister Sherry Nelson; his brother Greg Scheel; and three nephews, Shane and Shawn Doyle, and Tyler Nelson; and a niece, Rosanna Nelson.Rod also leaves scores of friends and business associates in Madison. He was a lifelong resident of Madison, and his dedication and commitment to Madison's central city will be missed. At the age of 21 in December in 1971, Rod opened his first business and managed it as though he had been born to the task. The City of Madison is indebted to Rodney for his foresight in the rebuilding and reintegration of the Hotel Washington at 636 West Washington Avenue. He was a trend-setter and a leader, and Madison has honored him and his "Hotel Family" with orchids, awards, and allegiance. Rod was a model citizen and his commitment to Madison provided countless others a model for themselves. Thank you, Rodney for your help, your courage, your encouragement, your leadership, your guts, your humor, your generosity, your love, and your friendship. Madison will not forget you and your accomplishments; and the young people in the business will always ask, "What would Rodney think?" That is a fair standard by which to judge the life of almost any person. A private memorial service will be held on Sunday, July 15. Rodney's friends are invited to attend a public memorial service at 10:30 a.m. at LUTHER MEMORIAL CHURCH, 1021 University Avenue in Madison on Saturday, July 21. Contributions in Rodney's name may be made to the Rodney Scheel House for PWA's  [Person With AIDS] care of the Washington Hotel, 636 West Washington Avenue, Madison, WI 53703. GUNDERSON FUNERAL HOME, 5203 Monona Drive, Monona, is handling the arrangements for the family.

Originally published in the Wisconsin State Journal on July 15, 1990.

Rodney Scheel is a Madison Central High School alumnus because he attended CHS for several years prior to transferring to East because Central closed in 1969. He graduated from East in 1970, but identified himself as a Central alumnus in a February 14, 1977 Wisconsin State Journal article about his success in restoring the Washington Hotel to its "original splendor." 

For more information about Rodney Scheel as a "gay icon," please visit the History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin page dedicated to his life and work.

Saturday, July 14, 1990

Obituary: Rodney Scheel

Restaurateur Scheel Succumbs

A Madison nightclub and restaurant operator died Thursday of AIDS complications.

Rodney Scheel, 39, owned and operated a number of clubs and a restaurant in the former Hotel Washington at 636 W. Washington Ave. Mr. Scheel purchased the building in 1975 and over the years renovated much of the hotel, which was popular with railroad passengers at the turn of the century.

The hotel is the home of Club de Wash, Rod's, Cafe Palms and Barber's Closet, with the clubs and restaurants retaining much of the period design.

Mr. Scheel was a lifelong Madison resident. He graduated from Central High School.

Originally published in The Capital Times as a news story on July 14, 1990

Note: Rodney Scheel attended Central High School; however, a June 4, 1970 article in The Capital Times lists his name among the students graduating from Madison East High School.