William J. Wartmann

William J. Wartmann

  • William "Bill" Wartmann passed away Sunday, June 17, 2018. Services were held in the Edgerton Performing Arts Center on Friday, June 22, 2018. Bill was born in Chicago, Illinois on February 8, 1936, the son of Wanda Klenovic Wartmann and William T. Wartmann. Bill was preceded in death by his wife Joyce, and his mother and father.

    Bill and Joyce were married on June 2, 1973 at the First Unitarian Society of Madison, the Rev. Max Gaebler presiding. Long before, Joyce and her daughter Mimi began weekend outings to visit Bill at the house he was restoring near Edgerton. Together with Michael Saternus, Bill’s first partner, Joyce would pitch in toward renovating the house built in 1852 by a settler from Maine. Bill would continue the renovation of the house and grounds over 40 years. Bill and Joyce first met while Bill was in graduate school at the UW in Madison. 

    Bill and Joyce would go on to support many local efforts including music and the arts, Gifts for Kids, various humane societies including Friends of Noah, historical society ventures, plus many annual scholarships to Edgerton High School graduates from their endowments. Major endowments have been established by Bill and Joyce at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music and Fine Arts programs, including the Madison Early Music Festival. The Wartmann Endowment for the Performing Arts in Edgerton has become widely known for drawing renowned performers and productions.

    Bill’s love of the arts began when he was a child trying to navigate through the stresses and disappointments of a rough Chicago neighborhood, but eventually his parents moved further west so that Bill could attend Oak Park High School. He received full scholarships to attend Illinois Wesleyan University where he received a degree as an art major with a minor in education. He then attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned an M.F.A. in metal sculpture and an M.S. in Art Education.

    Bill’s big-hearted nature led to many deep and lasting friendships and working relationships. His professional career culminated with service as president of the American Society of Appraisers- Wisconsin Chapter.

    The following quotes of Mr. Wartmann are taken from an Illinois Wesleyan Magazine article in the summer of 2011 written by Sarah Julian.

    With the goal of making Edgerton “an important cultural force,” in Bill’s words, he and Joyce supported the town’s Performing Arts Center, built in 2000. The Wartmann Endowment for the Performing Arts Center Fund has so far provided more than $600,000 to sustain the center and its programming.

    “If we don’t do something in our education system to open the arts to people, we’re going to lose all these wonderful experiences,” he says. “The arts are what can really soften us, by their sense of immediacy, by the aliveness of thought that can connect with us.” 

    “The reason I give this philanthropy,” Bill says, “is that, in a very simple manner, I was taught by my immigrant parents that you have to give back to the world.”

    “With all of the disasters in life, the one comfort is always art and music and literature,” he says. His liberal arts education brought with it the understanding “that people before us have experienced the same pain and anguish, in stories that are thousands of years old, yet reflect what we feel today. That realization creates continuity in the human experience. It reminds us that we are not alone — we have a relationship with the universe, and with each other, despite our differences.”

    Bill looks back on his own life with satisfaction. “I lived my life the best that I was able to. Each of us does the best we can, however crazy it may sound. I hope to help others find a path to be able to explore their own qualities, to give back to themselves first of all, and then back to the world.”