Letters: Remembering Fred Buerki

Sheri Levine Zander ’74’s letter in the Fall issue of On Wisconsin mentions her then-neighbor, Fred Buerki ’27, MA’35, a retired theater professor. I also had the pleasure of knowing Fred during my tenure at the Union Theater from 1970 to 1980. He was a respected member of the theater community, and as Fan Taylor ’38 wrote in Wisconsin Union Theater: Fifty Golden Years, Fred was an “enormous influence on generations of young men and women who learned backstage crafts and the art of living from him.”

Fred was also something of a legend for his extravagant costume and gracious, good company. On many an evening, I enjoyed listening to his stories at Porta Bella where, at least in my experience, his libation of choice was a gin martini ordered with a wave of his hand and the added fiat, “No fruit!” He also often dispensed the medical advice that, “of all things that won’t cure a cold, martinis are best.” At around 10:30 p.m., Fred would put on his cape and beret and bid me goodnight, and at 9:30 the next morning, he would join Jim Kenzler, Jean Hodgin ’39, and me at the Union Cafeteria for coffee and a sweet roll. He was a dear friend.

Ralph Sandler MA’64, PhDx’67 Madison

Published in the Winter 2010 issue

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