Blanchardville - Donald Van Putz, age 87, passed away on Thursday, December 29, 2011 at Meriter Hospital in Madison. He was born on April 17, 1924 in Minnesota to John H. and Harriet E. (Van Fossen) Putz. He served in the Army during WWII and received a purple heart. Don was a lifelong member of Carpenters Union 314.
Don enjoyed hunting and fishing. He loved boating, and was a member of the UW Hoofers. He wrote the Hoofers sailing manual that is still used today. Don used his many talents to make life easier and more beautiful for the people he loved.
Don is survived by his wife, Barbara Putz; children, Jay (June) Robinson, David (Connie) Putz, Peter (Lori) Putz and Missy (George) Paust; 8 step children; 8 grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren; 8 step grandchildren; 3 step great grandchildren; a brother, John L. Putz; many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents; a son, Van Putz; 2 wives, Ruth and Marjorie and a sister, Lora Lytle.
Private services will be held at a later date.
Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family of Donald. You are in our prayers.
I knew Don and his first wife, Marjorie (Midge) Robinson Putz back in the late 1940s when Midge was the Hoofer Advisor and Don was active in the Hoofer Sailing Club, (I was also active in the Hoofer Sailing Club and in the early 1950s was the Hoofer Advisor).
We lost contact except for an occasional contact when Don did some carpentry work at the Research Products Corp office building.
I learned a lot about repairing boats from Don who kept the early Hoofer boats in repair.
We would like to express our heart felt condolences to all the Putz family, and in particular to Don's daughter whom I always liked to call my "oldest friend" since her dad and mine were fast friends long before either of us was born.
My dad and Don met through Hoofers while my dad was still a bachelor. Growing up, my siblings and I were well aware that Dad always held his friend Don in the very highest esteem. They swapped electrical and carpentry skills, helping each other out with various projects, but especially enjoyed their mutual love of sailing--on open water and on ice. The iceboat "IONE" was jointly purchased by them in the late 40's, while Dad was dating my mom, and was the eventual excuse many years later for Schmitz-Putz family get-togethers in winter, when the ice was right, to sail and ice skate, then gather for hot chocolate and home made donuts.
Don built the most architecturally amazing hilltop house in which it was my childhood privilege to be a frequent guest. The multiple levels fascinated me, and I remember it was often filled with music from his very talented children. Don had a soft spot for dogs too, and we remember with gratitude the times our dog enjoyed his kind treatment and care while we were away.
Please know that Don is remembered fondly, and that you are very much in our thoughts.
Wendy (and Tim) Brockish
Don Putz was a valued friend and a trusted fellow sailor. Upon his return from World War II he held together the UW Hoofer Sailing Club and its ailing fleet of Tech dinghies not only through his leadership skills as commodore, but also with his carpentry skills as chief boat builder and restorer.
While doing all this, he maintained what was even then an antique Auburn motorcar. One day its driveshaft dropped in front of the Orpheum theater. Don returned with a suitable piece of leather, crawled under the Auburn repaired the shaft coupling and drove away.
During the 1997 UW Christmas recess he and I and three fellow Hoofers bought and restored the historic IONE, a 1920s Class A Iceboat crafted by master boat builder Bill Bernard. We used space in the annex adjacent to the Red Gym (now site of the UW Alumni House) with the acquiescence of a friendly custodian.
The following summer we sailed together during a Green Bay Lightning Class district regatta, taking 2nd place in the series. We cruised the COED, my Lightning Sailboat to Sturgeon Bay, returning on a late afternoon under darkening skies, with a 20 knot following wind and building seas. With channel lights and Main Street tavern signs to guide us, and rocky Second point to leeward, we needed to jibe; preferably without broaching and swamping. It was Donâ€™s skill and timing with the main sheet that prevented the broach, filling and capsizing. I wouldnâ€™t have tried it with anyone else.
As a novice skier, I was invited to an excursion to Telemark with other Hoofers with Don and his familyâ€™s car, pausing at Rib Mountain on the return trip. The care and attention given this snow-bunny by Don and fellow Hoofers was much appreciated.
Don and Midge built their house on Pheasant Branch Road with the willing help of numerous appreciative Hoofer sailors. We erected the framing on a Saturday afternoon, but the roof trusses remained in the basement where Don had prefabricated them the previous winter.
I offered to stay and help carry up the trusses. Don reluctantly accepter and we went back to their rental quarters where Midge fed us supper. We returned to the hill top with a gasoline lantern and got the job done. I donâ€™t remember whether or when I helped set up the roof trusses, but the following week many of us returned to install the roof boards. It was a pleasure working with Don, and at one time I was heard to remark: â€œI got more pleasure out of working with Don than with some consulting jobs at professional rates.â€
He was that kind of a guy. Weâ€™ll miss him.
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