Katherine Frances Butzer
Ann Marie Butzer
Mara Christine Butzer
Matthew W Butzer, Jr
Kenneth David Jewison
Theresa Evelyn Jewison
Francis John Jewison
John Butzer Cole
Ann Cole Butzer
Brook Butzer Cole
Leonard D Keyes
M, b. December 5, 1911, d. June 14, 1960
- Birth: Leonard D Keyes was born on December 5, 1911 in Iowa.
- Death: He died on June 14, 1960, at age 48, in Madison, Dane Co, Wisconsin.
M, b. September 7, 1867, d. January 20, 1940
Family: Caroline Bernardy (b. March 13, 1875, d. October 16, 1951)
- Raymond Pichotta (b. September 16, 1897, d. May 28, 1918)
- Bernhardt (Bernard) Jacob Pichotta (b. October 27, 1899, d. May 30, 1983)
- John Edward Pichotta (b. November 19, 1902, d. December 27, 1979)
- Margaret Pichotta (b. July 21, 1906, d. April 2, 1999)
- Paul Ralph Pichotta (b. September 23, 1908, d. July 18, 1975)
- Harold Arthur Pichotta (b. August 16, 1910, d. August 1, 1997)
- Francis Joseph Pichotta (b. April 2, 1912, d. May 1, 1991)
- Mary Elizabeth Pichotta (b. March 11, 1914, d. December 2, 2008)
- Helen A Pichotta (b. May 3, 1917, d. June 29, 1939)
- Birth: John Pichotta was born on September 7, 1867 in Krojanke, Germany.
- Marriage: He and Caroline Bernardy were married on August 20, 1895 in Porterfield, Marinette Co, Wisconsin.
- Death: John Pichotta died on January 20, 1940, at age 72, in Wabeno, Forest Co, Wisconsin.
M, b. September 16, 1897, d. May 28, 1918
- Birth: Raymond Pichotta was born on September 16, 1897 in Marinette, Marinette Co, Wisconsin.
- Death: He died on May 28, 1918, at age 20, in Cantiguy, France, WWI.
- Note: He was with Company C of the 28th Infantry and was buried at Somme America Bony-aisne, France. His name is listed on a monument in Washington, DC, honoring the members of the First Division who gave their lives in wartime. The monument is just south of the Blair House. Raymond's name is located on the north panel, at the bottom of the second column from the right. The monument shows that he was with Company G so there seems to be some confusion as to his unit. His name is also listed on a plaque embedded on a rock outside St. Ambrose Church in Wabeno. He had curly hair and for that reason his friends called him Curly. He never married.
- Note: Never Married.
Bernhardt (Bernard) Jacob Pichotta
M, b. October 27, 1899, d. May 30, 1983
- Birth: Bernhardt (Bernard) Jacob Pichotta was born on October 27, 1899 in Marinette, Marinette Co, Wisconsin.
- Death: He died on May 30, 1983, at age 83, in Iron Mountain, Dickinson Co, Michigan.
- Note: Bernard died in a VA hospital in Iron Mountain, MI. He left home when he was 16 and joined the Navy where he served during World War I. While in the Navy he received training at Harvard. After the war he worked in a logging camp in Watersmeet, MI. Someone from Wabeno met him there and word got back to his father John. His father hired a car and wne there and brought him back to Wabeno. He worked as an electrician, was active in local politics, and served as town chairman for many years. He lived with his sister Margaret's family. He enjoyed hunting and fishing. He never married.
F, b. July 21, 1906, d. April 2, 1999
- Birth: Margaret Pichotta was born on July 21, 1906 in Wabeno, Forest Co, Wisconsin.
- Marriage: She and Harold (Hal) Brandt were married on August 6, 1931 in Wabeno, Forest Co, Wisconsin.
- Death: Margaret Pichotta died on April 2, 1999, at age 92, in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.
- Note: Margaret resided in Wabeno virtually all of her life. She moved to Pottstown, PA in June of 1993 to live with her son. when she went to live with her son Dan it was her first flight in 70 years. when she was young she flew in a biplane that had come to Wabeno to give rides. Apparently, she had to get the money from her piggy bank. she said that when she was young she was one of the fastest runners in town. Hal died Monday in Ovitz Hospital in Laona, WI after suffering a stroke at his home Sunday evening. He had worked as a bookkeeper at the Menominee Bay Shore Lumber co. for years and at Twin city Lumber and Fuel for the past 20 years. Margaret's mother, Caroline, lived with them until her death as did her brother Bernard. Margaret's brother Paul and sister Mary stayed at the Brandt's when ever they came to visit. The Thanksgiving Day meals at the Brandt's, at which the Harold Pichotta's were also invited, were always a memorable time. Often had wild duck or partridge and one time bear, but we
never did have turkey. We kids always got sohungry waiting for the deer hunters to get back so we could eat at 5 o'clock. The Christmas morning breakfast at the Brandt's was also very special.
Paul Ralph Pichotta
M, b. September 23, 1908, d. July 18, 1975
- Birth: Paul Ralph Pichotta was born on September 23, 1908 in Wabeno, Forest Co, Wisconsin.
- Death: He died on July 18, 1975, at age 66, in Belleville, St Clair Co, Illinois.
- Occupation: He was a Librarian.
- Note: Never Married
He taught one fourth of all the students who attended St. Henry's- an entire generation from 1950 to 1968. We see him sitting on the teacher's desk, cross-legged, his text to his right, his clear, compelling voice addressing each of us as "Mister." And smiling wryly at a textual irony, or smugly at an artful pun, or gleefully at a stinging snark.
Paul Roland Pichotta was born September 23, 1908, in Wabeno, Wisconsin. His father, John Pichotta, was a German immigrant; he and his wife, Caroline, had 10 children, and Paul was No. 6. John, formerly a logging-camp cook, bought the hotel in Wabeno and renamed it Pichotta's Hotel.
That's where John and Caroline raised their family-until July 4, 1914, when a horrific fire destroyed a city block in Wabeno, including the hotel. Family members and hotel guests escaped to safety, but with nothing more than the clothes they were wearing and what they could carry. Five-year-old Paul ran from the hotel with a crucifix in one hand and his piggy bank in the other. While the hotel was being rebuilt, the family lodged on the second floor of a tavern.
Family members were expected to assist hotel guests in a variety of ways. Paul's niece Helen Brandt relates a story she heard from her mother, Margaret: "One Sunday afternoon, a young man and his lady friend came in for hot fudge sundaes. The gentleman was wearing a white flannel suit. Paul prepared the sundaes, brought them to the table, and then, while serving, drizzled hot fudge all over the gentleman's pants. Paul apparently spent more time in the kitchen after that incident."
In his childhood, Paul was stricken with polio, which caused a profound limp; therapy was required to enable him to walk. Margaret, his older sister by two years, went with her parents and Paul by train to Milwaukee for his treatment. Margaret remem-bered Paul's screaming as the doctor worked to straighten his leg. Paul wore leg braces in his youth and a built-up shoe throughout his adult life. In spite of this disability, he learned to play the piano, and he often accompanied silent films at the theater in Wabeno.
O this learning, what a thing it is! *
Paul studied library science and English at Marquette University, a Jesuit college, in Milwaukee; he also studied philosophy and "political economy" (an early name for economics). He emerged with a Ph.B. degree in 1931. Soon after, he was elected clerk of the Circuit Court in Forest County. Crandon, the county seat, lies about 30 miles from Wabeno.
In 1937, Paul ran for county judge. His campaign card read:
I was born in Wabeno and have lived there all my life. . . . For the past four years I have been the Clerk of Circuit Court for this county. During those four
*In tribute to Paul's love of Shakespeare, I have chosen lines from the Bard's plays for subheads.
years I have acquired much knowledge of law and of legal procedure through my close contact with the courts and by private study.
If you feel that my education and experience are sufficient, I will be grateful if you will consider me for County Judge when you go to the polls April 6, 1937.
Paul's campaign was unsuccessful, and he later settled into high school teaching at Cornell, Wisconsin. His English courses were quite popular, and in truth, he was quite popular.
Helen and her brother, Dan Brandt, remember Uncle Paul's telling a story about a small garter snake that Cornell High School students had placed in his top desk drawer as a prank, thinking to cause a ruckus. When he opened the drawer and spotted the snake, he grasped it in one hand, casually put it in his shirt pocket, and continued teaching. "The snake had a place of honor in the desk drawer," Helen says. "Sometimes he would put it in his shirt pocket, then every so often gaze down at it fondly. I am sure his students, especially the boys, were quite impressed."
When he returned to Wabeno in the summer for his annual two-week home visit, he often brought three or four boys with him from Cornell-a vacation for them, too, in decidedly rural Forest County. To this day, there's not a traffic light or parking meter in the whole of the county.
Paul made extended visits to his hometown twice a year, in July/August and at Christmas. He always stayed at his sister Margaret's home, which had five bedrooms. Margaret's daughter Helen loved spending time with Uncle Paul. "He liked to take a long walk every morning, at 10 o'clock. By 'long,' I mean an hour and a half. And I would go along." Helen's brother, Dan, says that Paul would drive outside Wabeno and walk on country roads. Dan also accompanied Paul on some of these walks.
Most of what I've learned about Paul's life before 1950 has been gained from extended phone conversations and e-mail exchanges with Helen and Dan and their cousin, Phil Pichotta.* All three have vivid memories of their Uncle Paul, and all three are thrilled to talk about him. Dan says, "Of all my aunts and uncles, it was Uncle Paul who displayed the most peculiarities, the most eccentricities." More on that later.
Well, honour is the subject of my story
In 1950, Paul flunked the daughter of the school superintendent at Cornell High School; she had been sleeping through his classes. On the recommendation of the superintendent, the three members of the school board voted not to renew Paul's contract.
*The Pichotta family in Wisconsin pronounces its surname puh-shot-ee-not puh-shot-uh, as we called Prof.
The students retaliated. Twenty of them advertised
in the local weekly newspaper that they intended to strike unless Paul received a contract or a satisfactory explanation for not being rehired. The newspaper reported that 400 people showed up at the next school board meeting, where they were told that the superintendent claimed that Paul was not "a top grade English teacher" and that a better one could be hired for less money. Forty attendees then spoke in support of Paul, but to no avail.
The next day, 110 of the 190 students skipped class- and the strike continued for at least two days after that. Paul went on the offensive. In a letter to the editor of the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, he charged:
The people of Cornell now know that their elected representatives, the school board, are acting directly contrary to an overwhelmingly expressed public opinion that Pichotta be re-hired.
If they refuse to abide by this public opinion so fully and freely expressed, they are false to their trust and irate citizens should demand their resignations and E. L. Brown, the superintendent who led the board astray, should be dismissed.
The public protests produced no happy result. Paul would not be teaching at Cornell in the fall. And he needed a job.
Cue the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
The pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Cornell at the time was Fr. Russell Tremblay, OMI '30, who was in St. Henry's first class when it opened in 1926. Fr. Clarence J. Meile, OMI '33, the superior at St. Henry's and a Wisconsin native himself, offered Paul a new home at 5901 West Main Street in Belleville, Illinois.
One man in his time plays many parts
Prof Pichotta was hired as the school secretary and to teach civics and American history. The following year, Prof was teaching English and directing the Better Speaking Club. By the beginning of the 1953-54 school year, he was St. Henry's bookkeeper and assistant bursar, as well as English and typing teacher.
Jack Range '53, who credits Prof for Jack's major-ing in English literature in college "and for whatever writing talent I have," recalls an early assignment to write autobiographies, "using long declarative sentences with no split infinitives or dangling participles." In his early years at St. Henry's, Prof also directed student plays. It was in one of these, The Haunted House, that Jack had the lead role; he missed several cues, with one flub causing the actors to skip an entire act!
Prof attended student plays he didn't direct, but often didn't stay to the end. Fr. Robert Spriggs '56, who acted in several plays, recalls that the actors valued Prof's "take" on their productions: "Prof was our version of Walter Kerr [then the Broadway theater critic for the New York Herald-Tribune]. He would invariably come to our performances, and just as invariably stay for one act only. It was our collective assessment that if we could ever get him to stay for more than the first act, we'd know we were a real 'hit.' I can't remember if we would-be thespians ever succeeded in that aspiration."
Mischief, thou art afoot
Prof and Fr. Robert Eimer, OMI '45, made a large impact on Fr. Jack Frerker '55: "They introduced me to literature, drama, poetry, and started a life-long love affair with all that." Jack recalls that his class played tricks on Prof. In one class, they all sat cross-legged on their desks, just like Prof, and for several classes, they rearranged all their desks. "Prof was wise enough to not make a big deal out of this," Jack says. "I happened to overhear him commenting on our shenanigans to a fellow faculty member, and I reported to the class that he was actually getting a kick out of them."
They weren't the only tricksters in Prof's classes. Fr. George Mauck '67 tells about the time everyone in his class set his watch five minutes fast. One of them had tape-recorded the school annunciator bell's jarring tintinnabulation. [ed. note: Do I get extra points, Prof?] "Five minutes before the end of class, the 'bell' went off," says George, "and we all stood up. Some of us left the classroom." Prof ran a tightly scripted class, and he must have wondered why he wasn't able to finish his lesson before the bell-until the real bell rang five minutes later.
He was a scholar, and a ripe and good one; Exceeding wise, fair-spoken and persuading
Prof was a fervent advocate of a robust and expansive vocabulary. To this end, he brought Reader's Digest to the classroom in the form of its monthly feature "Word Power," a themed series of 20 vocabulary words. You picked the meaning of the word in bold type from four multiple-choice answers. Here's an example:
assiduously (as s?d? ? us l?)-A: diligently. B: scathingly. C: enthusiastically. D: helpfully.
"I was never able to get them all right," laments John Eros '57. "One time I got the first 19 right and missed the last one. The one I missed was tender, used as a verb. They always had one answer that was close to being right, and they sucked me in on that one."
Already by the mid-1950s, Prof was teaching Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities. He had us memorize passages from Julius Caesar, which we were required to regurgitate on tests, including punctuation. I can still recite many of these, and not just Mark Antony's "Friends, Romans, countrymen . . .":
"Let me have men about me that are fat . . ."
"Nor stony tower, nor walls of beaten brass . . ."
"There is a tide in the affairs of men . . ."
For those of us in Prof's legendary course, Julius Caesar and A Tale of Two Cities will forever be unique among the two authors' works, because Prof impressed them so profoundly on our young minds. Larry Rothrock '61 agrees: "I still reread A Tale of Two Cities and Julius Caesar about every two years, and I still check the vocabulary quizzes in the Reader's Digest copies in my doctor's waiting room." George Harper '58 recalls a bus trip to downtown Belleville's Lincoln Theater to see Joseph Mankiewicz's Julius Ceasar, with Marlon Brando, James Mason, and John Gielgud. [ed. note: Thanks, Prof, I needed that-and in front of all my schoolmates!]
Bill Clark '58 points out that Prof deducted two points for every misspelling in a report or essay, but he was the Angel of Death if you erred with to~too~two or there~their~they're. Such a grievous error warranted a ten-point deduction. You lost an entire letter grade each time your pen slipped and you wrote there for their! (I wish Prof were here today so that I could confront him with the fact that Thomas Jefferson, in his rough draft of the Declaration of Independence, wrote it's for the possessive pronoun its four times. Prof would have flunked Thomas Jefferson for his composition of one of our founding documents!)
Eugene Crook '60 contracted rheumatic fever at the end of his sophomore year, depriving him of the last two months of English with Prof. Earlier in the year, he had asked Prof how to pursue creative writing. He was told, "The only way to learn how to write is to read the best authors, pay close attention to how they write, and imitate the style but change the contents." Gene, who has enjoyed a long and productive career as an English professor, says that A Tale of Two Cities "came alive under Prof's instruction and exegesis as if it were a movie playing out in my own head and imagination. In my career, I never taught that text, because I thought that I could never do it as well for my students as he had done it for us."
He reads much; He is a great observer, and he looks Quite through the deeds of men
Gus Heidemann '57 considered Prof "something of a cultural island at the school. He helped his influence that way by his courses-rigorous, tough in his teaching, and, through that, insistent on the importance of his subject, literature. . . . But it was also his influence outside of his subject matter-his description of the concerts and theater he had attended, which, to many (most?) of us had been tangential to our lives. He urged us in this direction in little ways-in his tests he awarded bonus points for outside reading on current artistic and cultural matters, and he persuaded us that reading literature was its own reward."
Gus's younger brother Gene '62 recalls that on Monday mornings, Prof would talk about which plays, musicals, and movies he had seen over the weekend. Gene also remembers "a never-ending succession of book reports on 'the classics': In my senior year at Mater Dei High School, I used my sophomore book reports, which I had kept. I revised them, using Prof's constructive comments, and got an easy 'A'."
Prof's classes were purposeful and no-nonsense. Sometimes, however, he intentionally (I think) set up and delivered his own punch line. As Tony Louveau '66 tells it, "Prof induced an uproar of sophomoric laughter one day as he presented a class on the conjunction as a part of speech. He presented a sentence with but as an example. In a fashion only Prof Pichotta could execute, he enthusiastically-with outstretched arms and animated facial expression-paused at but and announced to the class, 'And boys, this is a big but.' To his dismay-or, more likely, delight-we burst into a paroxysm of laughter. Prof's face reddened as if he hadn't realized until it was too late why we were laughing."
Prof read two magazines cover to cover: Time and the Jesuit weekly America. He was ever concerned that students be au courant with current events and au fait with history. This explains, in part, his choice of Julius Caesar and A Tale of Two Cities: They marked historical events-respectively, the end of the Roman Republic and the decline of monarchical and ecclesiastical rule in Europe. Literary masterpieces they certainly are, but they are set in real, momentous, historical times.
One of the few bonus questions I remember on a quiz of Prof's was, "Name the two U.S. senators from Illinois" (Paul Douglas and Everett Dirksen). Prof was a lifelong Democrat. Gene Crook says, "He cautioned me about my leanings toward conservative thinking, and it was he who suggested that the path of Joseph McCarthy was the wrong one to follow. Just at that time the House Committee on Un-American Activities was busy with their 'investigations,' and I had sent off for their pamphlets and suggested that we put them in the library. Prof would have none of it. Like Harry Truman, he said that it was the most un-American activity to keep looking for Communists under every rock and hedgerow. He turned me in the right direction, thankfully for the rest of my life, toward being liberal/progressive."
They are the books, the arts, the academes, That show, contain and nourish all the world
Prof regularly attended St. Louis Symphony performances; he was often accompanied by Fr. Robert Braun, OMI '43 or Fr. Paul Wightman, OMI '47. "We would sit at the very top of the symphony hall," Paul Wightman says. "And at the closing note of the concert, we would scramble down to the ground floor and out to the car-Prof had a favorite parking space-and beat the crowd." A trip across the Mississippi River often involved a visit to Prof's favorite St. Louis restaurant: Miss Hulling's.
Fr. Allen Maes '57 relates a story that Prof told on himself. "Prof had difficulty climbing the stairs in Kiel Opera House; with his limp, he would thrust out his hand, grab the rail, and pull himself forward, again and again. Before one concert, he told me, he accidentally grabbed a woman's leg. 'Oh, I'm sorry, Madame!' he exclaimed. 'Is that your leg I have hold of?' "
Paul Wightman also took Sunday afternoon drives into the country with Prof. "We often ate at remote restaurants that had a 'reputation.' Prof would hear or read about these unique places, and we would try them out." Back in Prof's hometown of Wabeno, there is a restaurant/bar named Pichotta's Pub & Grub, owned and operated by Brian Pichotta, a grand-nephew of Prof's, and his wife. It's billed as "the Home of the Beaver Burger" and is just the sort of place that Prof would drive dozens of miles out of his way to patronize.
My library was dukedom large enough
Prof took courses at Washington University in St. Louis, eventually earning a certificate in library science. During the summer of 1959, St. Henry's library moved to its new home in the one-story addition to the A Building. The room had been, over the years, the main student chapel, a parlor and auditorium, and a freshman study hall. Now, it was the library, and Prof was the librarian.
I once complained to Prof that I had been reading a volume of short stories, many hundreds of pages long, and discovered that one of the stories had been excised with a very sharp blade. My original thought was that a student had poached the story, but Prof enlightened me on the general procedure of library book accession at St. Henry's. Every new book was reviewed by one of the priests; then, and only then, could it be added to the library's collection. "Most likely," he said, "a priest decided that the story wasn't fit for your 14-year-old eyes and mind."
Working in the library had its perks. Tom Smith '58 volunteered in the library, and he is sure that Prof was aware that one reason for his eagerness to serve was to read the previous week's issue of Time magazine, which was off limits to students.
Many students hoped for manual-labor assignments in the library, of which there were many to be had. Gary Siegel '61 was lucky enough to work in the library his freshman year. "The first time I walked into the library, there was a cloud of dust stirring up by the ceiling toward the back of the room. A classmate of mine, Bill Prekker, was up there on his hands and knees, dodging lights and cleaning vigorously the tops of the bookcases." Gary can "still smell the shellac we used to brush on some of those old books no one was ever going to read."
Jerry Kish '63 had a different experience. The book bindery on campus rescued and rebound old books, which were shipped to the back room of the library. A librarian applied black paint on the upper and lower edges of the spine. One day, Prof summoned Jerry to his office. "He announced that he was impressed with my steady hand and eye for spacing, and he was appointing me to the job of inscribing on these books the title and Dewey Decimal System call number-using a dip-style pen nib in white on the black panels. It took me only one Saturday to figure out that the guy in the back room-me-was always the last one released on Saturdays. Everybody else left once they finished dusting, wiping, or floor-buffing. For me, there was always another box of books waiting."
In his last two years at St. Henry's, Prof taught a course in library use. Mike Kish '67 is one who speaks of how well the course served him through college and postgraduate work. Be it remembered that there was no Internet at the time-or personal computers, for that matter. There were, instead, the card catalog and The Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature.
One of the first lessons Prof taught in sophomore English was the proper way to open a new hardbound book. Fr. Carl Scherrer '65 thinks of Prof every time he opens a new book. (For the unschooled: Remove the dust jacket, if there is one. Place the book on a table. Open the front cover. Tightly grasp the closed pages and lift them perpendicular to the table surface; the front and back covers and the spine should be resting flat on the table. Alternating left and right, allow a quarter-inch thickness of pages to fall to each cover; repeat until the book is lying open at its middle.)
O! he sits high in all the people's hearts
Through the 1950s and early 1960s, Prof worked and slept in a small corner of the first floor of the A Building, just outside his library. His office was tiny, and his bedroom more so. His bed was set on concrete blocks, so that it was two feet higher than normal. He claimed to Gene Crook that the height was "more conducive to a comfortable and good night's sleep," but I wonder if it wasn't to create an extra "shelf" beneath the springs and mattress-he had stacks of books everywhere in his bedroom, including under his bed.
Students swarmed Prof as he walked across campus. It was much the same in his tiny office after the evening meal. Politics, literature, current events on tap, in effect. But almost never religion; Prof left that for the priests-the professionals on the staff.
Prof used his manual typewriter and adding machine quite a bit, but the office equipment he used most was a pair of long-bladed scissors, with which he cut out articles from newspapers and magazines. When a visitor entered, he didn't lay the scissors on his desk. He would sit there and visit, while holding the scissors so that the blades pinched his nostrils. (A reward to the alumnus who has a photo of this.)
Larry Friederich '67, a student librarian in his sophomore year, recalls the gatherings in Prof's office. "When someone would use a new or unusual word, Prof would say, 'That's a good one. Now, what exactly does it mean and how does it differ from [such-and-such similar word]?' After we had stumbled about trying to define the word, he would say, 'Let's look it up.' He'd pull out the current edition of Webster's and read the definition to us, with emphasis on the history of the word and its derivatives. He gave us an appreciation of the English language and greatly increased our
working vocabulary. He made learning fun.”
Larry taught at St. Henry’s and was the school librarian
from 1972 to 1974. “I tried to carry on Prof’s
tradition,” he says, “by inviting students to visit me in
my office, and a number of the freshmen and sophomores
did. Those were two good years.”
One day each spring, we celebrated Prof Tie Day.
The Visiting Sunday before, we had our dads bring
their old ties—the widest, brightest, loudest ties they
had. It was quite a contrast to our accustomed narrow
ties, and Prof was delighted.
Of his personal life, Prof shared little. He maintained
a diary, as many of us knew. The early pages
were handwritten, the later ones typed and placed in
ring binders. Had he been so inclined, his diary could
have brimmed over with rich, insightful comments on
his life and times. Alas, the entries were mundane:
That he saw this movie or went to that restaurant,
and—always—what he spent every day, to the penny.
Once he was asked what he did at the seminary
while we were away at Christmas break. Tony Louveau
was there: “He told us he often ate crisp, cold
apples as he read exciting murder mysteries at night.
We were all delighted that he told us something like
To put an antic disposition on
In fact, Prof traveled to Wabeno for Christmas. After
a flight from St. Louis to Green Bay, he would take a
bus to northern Wisconsin. Shortly before the bus was
scheduled to arrive in Wabeno, niece Helen says, “We
would put on our hats and coats and watch from the
window. The bus depot was one street over, at the hotel,
and when someone spotted the bus coming, we’d
jump in the car and head over to meet Uncle Paul.”
The Wabeno theater was so small that it didn’t
show many first-run movies, so Helen’s first words to
Uncle Paul were, “What movies have you seen?” He
had inspired in her a love of literature, classical music,
and opera. Her brother Dan calls Paul and Helen, who
later became a librarian, “kindred spirits.” Helen recalls
the letters Prof sent her: “always typed, and filled
with details about the latest foreign films he had seen
and his symphony outings.”
Prof played the piano for an hour each day during
his home visit. “Sometimes I would play a duet with
him,” Helen says, “but he was much more accomplished
than I, and he was not pleased when I made a
mistake.” Prof also played games with the children.
Dan recalls sitting
on the floor with Uncle Paul and
Prof brought Christmas presents for the family
during his summer trip in late July and August. His
niece and nephews told me that Uncle Paul’s gifts
were unconventional. The children were asked to help
wrap them. “Since he had been buying them throughout
the year,” Helen laughs, “he would sometimes forget
the intended recipient for a particular present. He
would ask us, ‘Whom do you think this is for?’ And he
left the price tags on all his gifts—intentionally. Of
course, he would always act embarrassed when they
were opened at Christmas, but he obviously wanted
us to know how much he had spent.”
One year, Dan says, Uncle Paul had a huge present
for his sister Margaret—filled with all manner of
Tupperware containers. Of course, Margaret was surprised
and bemused when she opened the gift, but she
used the containers for years.
Jerry Kish remembers how Prof would smuggle
contraband into Wisconsin on his trips home. To protect
its dairy industry, Wisconsin had passed a law in
1895 prohibiting margarine that was colored yellow in
imitation of butter. If you wanted margarine instead
of real butter, you would buy white margarine that
looked like lard with a packet of food-grade yellow
coloring. Then you would have to squeeze the contents
of the packet onto the margarine and work it in
with your hands until it was more or less uniform.
Prof would pack a case or two of yellow margarine
in a cooler before he headed north for his summer
visit. “I think it might have been Blue Bonnet margarine,”
says his niece Helen. “Mother used to buy Carnation
condensed milk by the case, which we stored
in our cellar. It was Uncle Paul’s idea that he bring us
a case of Milnot instead. The cost was cheaper, and
there was no Milnot in Wisconsin. It was much easier
for him to bring both products on his summer trips to
Wisconsin, than for my father to take a day off to hit
the big cities of Green Bay and Marinette.”
Since his sister Margaret didn't drive, Paul would drive the family to the big stores in Rhinelander for shopping in the summer. "He would take us to a nice restaurant," says Helen. "And for him, 'nice' meant they had cloth napkins. He insisted that my brother, Dan, and I observe good manners, and when we fell short of his standards, he would glance sidelong at the other diners to see if they had noticed our transgressions."
Paul was generous to his sister Margaret. "Before he left," Helen says, "he would hide an envelope of money somewhere in the house. When Mother found the money, she would be thrilled."
Nephew Phil recalls a dinner in July 1997 that he and his wife, Mary Beth, attended at the archbishop's Villa on the campus of the seminary at Mundelein. The newly installed archbishop, Francis George '55, was greeting attendees when he spotted "Pichotta" on their nametags. "I had a teacher by that name at St. Henry's Seminary," he told them. It was Phil's Uncle Paul! "Paul was a very important influence on my life," Francis told them. "He opened me up to new areas of learning." Since Prof, like Francis, had had childhood polio, he was able to relate to Francis and help him. "I think of Paul frequently, even now," Francis told Phil and Mary Beth, "and I occasionally say a Mass for him."
Mine honour is my life
On Friday evenings from November 1964 to August 1967, Prof moonlighted at the Belleville Public Library. He joked with his family about "the little old ladies who worked there," Helen Brandt recalls, "and how they were always sending him home with sweets and care packages. He obviously enjoyed being fussed over."
As St. Henry's bookkeeper and assistant bursar, Prof did more than receive and write checks. He sometimes made executive decisions. Like the semester in the mid-1950s when typing instructor Fr. Frank Ryan '45 showed up for only three of the typing classes. There was an extra fee assessed to typing students, but according to Fr. Roger Karban '57, "Prof didn't complain about giving a group of us our money back. He only charged us for the rental of the typewriters."
On Visiting Sunday afternoons, Prof was in his office, accepting tuition checks. Mike Kish remembers that, as a grade schooler, he would accompany his dad and "seven or eight siblings" to Prof's office. His dad would hand Prof a check for $60 to pay tuition for Mike's older brother Jerry, and Prof would hand his dad a receipt. Gus Heidemann says, "It was rare when he forgot a parent's name and face once he had met him. The tuition and board expenses were not easy for many parents to meet, mine included, and his friendliness helped ease the pain some of our parents went through in meeting them."
Fr. Francis Zachman, OMI '44 became superior at St. Henry's in 1962. Francis was an innovator and was determined to modernize the seminary's administration. At the time, kitchen workers were paid in cash, with no payroll deductions, and on Friday there were stacks of cash on Prof's desk, ready for payout. The most significant financial transformation, compelled by the provincial council, was to convert the seminary's accounting system from a cash basis to an accrual basis, meaning that income would now be recorded when it was earned and invoiced (not when it was received) and expenses would be recorded when they were incurred (not when they were paid).
Traditionalist Prof was resistant to some of the changes necessitated by the new financial system. The clash between two strong personalities-Prof as teacher and assistant bursar, and Francis as seminary superior-was exacerbated by the fact that Prof was very popular among the students. Both men tended to be obstinate and uncompromising, and it developed into a turf war, in one observer's view.
And so it was that Francis, nearing the end of his second and last term as superior, fired Prof in April 1968, during Easter break when students were absent from campus.
Then burst his mighty heart
Francis gave Prof a list of reasons, although it is unclear whether the reasons were genuine and comprehensive. One charge, according to Dave Oughton '69, was that Prof blurred the line between teacher and student and developed friendships with students, to which he replied, "I don't seek out the students."
But "superior" means superior, and Prof would serve through the end of the term and be gone by September. Francis was later overheard to say, "I wasn't going to leave that problem for my successor." He was, essentially, "cleaning house" before he himself left.
Prof was 59 years old and had just been dispossessed of a way of life that might have been expected to produce a Mr. Chips denouement. Future students were to be denied his teaching talent and humor and friendship. In an open letter to Prof from "The Students of St. Henry's Prep," he received effusive and unqualified praise for his role as their teacher, men-tor, and friend. "Besides being a good teacher," the students wrote, "you've been a good friend. . . . The warmth of your office melted loneliness. No matter what we had to say, you were there to listen."
What's past is prologue
Within a month of his firing, Prof returned to working Friday evenings at the public library in Belleville. He continued this part-time work until his death, earning a bit more than minimum wage ($1.60 an hour for most of that period).
Prof took an apartment on East A Street in downtown Belleville and was hired by the Kaskaskia Library System, a multicounty library consortium headquartered in Smithton. He was a research librarian there-the "Google" of his age-although he confided to Dave Oughton that he was "bored at my job. I'm asked about such silly things, not like at St. Henry's."
The Kaskaskia Library job, as it turned out, directly benefited St. Henry's students. Joe McCafferty '69 writes that once the fall semester began in September 1968, Prof "became a conduit for much-appreciated books and research material to seniors writing their sociology term papers. Sociology teacher Fr. Charles Hurkes was in awe of the many books and periodicals he would see on students' desks in support of our academic work, never imagining that it was Prof Pichotta who was our supplier."
Nor had the campus seen the last of Prof Pichotta. Occasionally on Sunday evenings, he would park his small white Chevy next to the senior department at the rear of the refectory. According to Joe McCafferty, "Prof would take orders and then make a run to McDonald's for many 'starving seniors.' The Sunday noon meal was the big meal of the day and Sunday dinner was often a bit sparse."
Paul Wightman remembers that Prof, within a few years of leaving St. Henry's, was a guest of the Oblates during a months'-long convalescence. This probably occurred while Fr. Eimer was superior. He was very fond of Prof and offered the former teacher his old room in the priests' residence while he recuperated.
The Class of '69 dedicated its senior play, Inherit the Wind, to Prof. In the program, Bill Schmitt wrote:
We, the senior class of 1969, respectfully dedicate our production of Inherit the Wind to Prof. Paul Pichotta, one of our most admired and helpful friends. Our friendship is based not only on what he had done for us, but what he has stood for.
Mr. Pichotta is a former teacher and librarian at St. Henry's. Throughout his eighteen years here, he instilled in his students a love for literature and a driving curiosity for knowledge. At the same time, he has fostered in each of us a taste for culture and education in entertainment, such as the theater, the symphony, and the movies. "Prof" and the senior class have lived together through many periods of uncertainty. But we were friends yesterday, we are friends today, and we will be friends forever.
Quite a few students stayed in touch with Prof and visited him in his apartment. Dave Oughton maintained a close relationship with Prof through the years, visiting him on college breaks and summer vacations, and more frequently when Dave was teaching at Blessed Sacrament grade school in Belleville. Dave would walk or ride his bike from his parents' home on C Street, and the two would go to movies, concerts, or the symphony, occasionally with others. Sometimes Prof would pay the tab, and sometimes they would go Dutch. Prof loved to have dinner at the Oughton home, and Dave's parents loved to have him as their guest.
In Summer 1969, Prof asked Dave to accompany him on a driving trip to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York. During the two-week vacation, they toured historical and political sites in those cities-Independence Hall in Philadelphia, for instance-and they saw Broadway plays in New York City. Dave credits Prof with "opening my eyes to the arts." During the next three summers, Dave and Prof, and sometimes others, attended concerts at the Mississippi River Festival at SIU-Edwardsville. When Simon and Garfunkel came to Kiel Opera House, Prof was there, with a small group that included Dave. "Prof liked young people," Dave concludes. "He missed the daily contact with students. 'If you're a teacher,' he would say, 'the kids keep you young'."
Deacon Rich Bagby '67 says that, after Prof left St. Henry's, "I introduced Prof to my girlfriend and future wife, Pat. We would meet at Prof's apartment occasionally on Friday evenings. We would bring items for supper and treat Prof to our version of a home-cooked meal of pasta, bread, and salad." Pat adds: "We brought most of the cooking implements, like pots and pans, because Prof had precious few." Rich continues: "We would simply sit and chat about our St. Henry's days. Prof was always gracious and would invite us to watch a television program of which he was particularly fond. That meant it had to be on KETC-TV and, thus, educational. In fact, the story was that Prof's TV could only tune to Channel 9. Classmate Larry Friederich and his girlfriend sometimes came with us, and Dave Wagner, who was Larry's roommate. At times, we would listen to classical music or watch old movies."
Prof's favorite Friday-night meal, after he had worked at the Belleville Public Library from 6 to 9 o'clock, was Stouffer's frozen Turkey Tetrazzini. Rich Thompson '66, another frequent visitor, recalls that Prof would say as he arrived at his apartment, "After three hours at the Pub [his saucy sobriquet for the public library], I'm ravenous for my turkey tetrazzini." Rich Bagby says, "If we had already eaten, we would often pick up some of his frozen favorite and have it ready for him to eat when he arrived. Somehow or other, one of us had a key or knew where a key was hidden." During Lent, Rich and Pat prepared tuna-noodle casserole for Prof's special Friday-night meal.
By 1975, Dave Oughton was visiting with Prof once a week, sometimes oftener. A couple of weeks before his death, Prof mentioned to Dave that he believed he was going blind and that he had an incurable disease. He offered no details.
Prof's niece Helen Brandt was concerned. Every summer, he would stop at Lake Geneva and pick Helen up before driving north to visit family. This was usu-ally arranged by letter several weeks ahead, since Helen needed to schedule her vacation at the same time as his. "By July, I hadn't heard from him-there was no response to my letters. When I finally called him, he told me, 'I'm not feeling well, and I won't be visiting this summer.' A week or so later, he wrote a letter of explanation, saying 'I've got something wrong with my throat,' and he sounded frightened. I didn't know what to make of it. He had never been ill, as far as I could remember." But life, being weary of these worldly bars On the evening of Thursday, July 17, 1975, Prof took an overdose of barbiturates and tranquilizers, lay on his couch, clasped a rosary in his hands, and waited. I love to think that, as the seconds ticked and his con-sciousness faded, his mind's eye saw classrooms of boys-hundreds of boys, his boys-with eager, ear-nest faces as witness to his worth and proof that he was not alone. His lifeless body was discovered the next morn ing, and he was declared dead at 8:55 am. His body was taken briefly to St. Elizabeth's Hospital, where his friend Rich Thompson came to say good-bye. By late afternoon, his body was transferred to St. Louis University School of Medicine-Prof's final act of altruism. At 6 pm on the following Friday in the seminary chapel, Prof's close friend Fr. Paul Wightman cele-brated the Mass of the Resurrection unto Eternal Life. Tim Quain '69 read from the Book of Wisdom: "The just shall shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds." Marvin Winkeler '69 read from Romans, chapter 8: "If God is for us, who can be against us?" "The Prayer of St. Francis" was sung dur-ing the prep aration of the gifts, and "Amazing Grace" at communion. Prof's younger sister, Mary, came to Belleville to settle his affairs. There were few books in his apart-ment. Mary offered Prof's typewriter and long-bladed scissors to Rich Thompson, and she gave Prof's diaries to Dave Oughton. The relics were few, the memories many . . . His life was gentle, and the elements So mixed in him that Nature might stand up And say to all the world, "This was a man!"
Harold Arthur Pichotta
M, b. August 16, 1910, d. August 1, 1997
- Birth: Harold Arthur Pichotta was born on August 16, 1910 in Wabeno, Forest Co, Wisconsin.
- Marriage: He and Helen Mary Kopecky were married on June 19, 1937 in Wabeno, Forest Co, Wisconsin.
- Death: Harold Arthur Pichotta died on August 1, 1997, at age 86, in Wabeno, Forest Co, Wisconsin.
- Burial: He was buried in St Ambrose Cemetery, Wabeno, Forest Co, Wisconsin.
- Note: Harold and Helen were life-long residents of Wabeno, WI. Harold worked as a bookkeeper in Schlafke's Bakery for 40 years until it closed down. He was active in the local sportsmen's club and was always interested in conservation of natural resources. He bought an abandoned farm in 1951 13 miles east of town and planted pine plantations. He also built two trout ponds which have provided many hours of enjoyment and some nice brook trout. He and his don David (plus many friends) build a log cabin with logs cut from the trees he planted. Helen was known for her good cooking and she often cooked for weddings and civic groups.