Monday, February 10, 2003

Obituary: Harry E. Baumgartner - Class of 1936

MADISON - Harry E. Baumgartner, age 85, passed away at Oakwood Village West on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2003. Harry was born in Madison on Oct. 7, 1917, to the late Mathew and Anna Maria (Menzi) Baumgartner. Harry attended Franklin School in South Madison and graduated from Central High School in 1936. He began a 42-year career in sales of floor covering products at Harry S. Manchester Department Store in Downtown Madison. Harry was a member of the National Guard's 135th Medical Regiment that was called to active duty to support the U.S. Army's 32nd Infantry Division in World War II. He spent seven years in military service as a motor mechanic, including more than 5 years in the Southwest Pacific where he was stationed in Australia, New Guinea, and the Philippines. Sgt. Harry E. Baumgartner was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation, three Battle Stars, and other military honors for his service in World War II. Upon his discharge, Harry was employed at Petterson's Carpetland, until 1958, when he joined F.E. Seybold's new floor covering business when it opened in Madison. Harry retired from Seybold's in 1982 after 24 years of service. Harry was a long-time resident of South Madison, residing at the family homestead on Gilson Street on the edge of Franklin Field until 1982. When prompted, Harry would recount stories of shopping at Freida's small grocery store on Gilson Street for penny candy, shopping at Koltes and Esser's hardware store on Lakeside Street, riding the electric trolley between Lakeside Street and Lake Street in downtown Madison, and walking the railroad tracks between Olin Avenue and downtown Madison with friends in search of new adventures. In South Madison he began a lifelong interest in the outdoors, fishing in the Madison lakes and hunting in the marshy area that is now the site of the Alliant Center and the Dane County Exposition Center. Harry also inherited a knack for fine woodworking from his father, a well-known old-world European craftsman and cabinet maker in Madison. Harry's carpentry and woodworking skills helped to build a log cabin in northern Wisconsin in the late 1940's, near the Town of Winter in Sawyer County. The "cottage" has provided countless days of hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation in the northwoods for himself and three generations of his extended family. Harry enjoyed history, reading, and gardening and working in his yard. In 1982, Harry built a new house in Monona on Ridgewood Avenue, across from Frostwoods Park. He was especially proud of his yard, one of the first in Monona to replace a traditional grass lawn with habitat for birds and animals. "Hadi" as he was affectionately known to many friends and family had a special timeless ability to relate to children, young adults, and dogs. He was a favorite uncle to two generations of nieces and nephews from his large extended family. Harry is survived by two sisters, Anne (Henry) Behrnd and Gladys Stanley, both of Madison; as well as many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, six sisters, Euphemia Lengacher, Bertha (Betty) Leverentz, Lillian Scheel, Leona Dale, Hildegarde Baumgartner, Gladys Stanley, and Frances (Franz) Bulovsky; as well as five brothers, John, Walter, Walter Jacob, Mathew, and John Henry. A visitation will be held on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2003, from 4pm, until 7pm at CRESS FUNERAL HOME, 3610 Speedway Road, Madison. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to the Wisconsin Veterans Museum 30 W. Mifflin St. or the American Cancer Society. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Cress Funeral Service (608) 238-3434

Originally published in the Wisconsin State Journal on February 10, 2003

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