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Linda Martin Clauder was born March 25, 1941, in her great-grandmother’s house in the village of Mt. Sterling, Wisconsin, of German, English, Swedish and Norwegian heritage. Her parents were children of the Great Depression.
Linda’s love of music and learning was born in the one-room country schoolhouse at Bridgeport, with her teacher, Bridget Collins, “Bridgie”, who was profiled in Ben Logan’s Memoir, “The Land Remembers”. This Irish teacher instilled a love of poetry and music, much of it Irish, of course, and Linda sang and recited at the elaborate annual school Christmas programs.
Students who came under Bridget’s spell, raved long after about the fundamentals she instilled in them: every child learned to read; the students belonged to the Audubon Society and took field trips into the woods behind the school. When the new FM Radio arrived, they sang along with Professor “Pop” Gordon, drew art projects, and learned science from “Ranger Mac.”
A rural childhood can be lonely; her brother Dick was four years older, and his interests lay in the out-of-doors, not in a scrawny little sister. There was never more than a dozen or so neighborhood children. So, kids of all ages either played games together after school, or as in Linda’s case, retreated into books. She plowed through shelf after shelf of the public library’s children’s section, from Nancy Drew mysteries to historical biographies.
Her parents owned a series of small businesses, and the family worked seven days a week; family outings were rare. The children had chores before and after school. They learned how to “serve the public” – to stock shelves, scoop ice cream, fry hamburgers, make change – tasks that matured them socially.
After Bridget retired, Linda started sixth grade at the public school in Prairie du Chien. There she began piano and clarinet lessons and her life in music took off. After Dick graduated from high school, the Martins moved to Prairie, and Linda became more involved in high school. A speech she wrote and delivered on the radio won the city’s “Voice of Democracy” contest. She studied Latin and German. One morning her science teacher startled the class by explaining how “Sputnik”, a Russian satellite, was now orbiting the earth.
She took private voice lessons at St. Mary’s School for Girls and gave a recital there at the end of her senior year, accompanied by Sharon Dessloch, her closest friend, and fiercest competitor in classes and music. But competition never got in the way of their friendship. They played clarinet duets and quintets at regional and state solo and ensemble contests, usually winning first place. Somehow Linda also found time to twirl baton and cheerlead. She graduated first in her class from Prairie du Chien High School.
When it came time for university, there was only one choice: Madison. But she didn’t go to Music School: she followed her Uncle Bob’s footsteps into the two-year Integrated Liberal Studies program, which opened the world to her. However, music beckoned at the end of the freshman year, and she began adding music courses during summer terms. By then, the Martins had moved to Madison, and Linda lived at home as an “independent” – no dorm life or sorority for her. She graduated with Senior Honors in a Bachelor of Arts Degree and went on for a Master of Arts Degree in applied music, art history, theater, and German. Today, it would be called a Master of Fine Arts.
That first summer determined the course of her professional life, when she was assigned to voice teacher, Professor Bettina Bjorksten, a German-born soprano of high culture and intellect. Linda found her calling in Bettina’s studio, a life of serious musical study, and a lifelong friendship.
But there was a lighter side to music, which she found in campus and local theater and performing groups. With a middle-range voice, she found herself in the “character” roles in student operas, like Cherubino in “Marriage of Figaro”, and Hansel in “Hansel and Gretel”; and in musicals like Ado Annie in “Oklahoma,” Maisie, in “The Boyfriend” and Rose in “Bye Bye Birdie.” She became a trouper in summer stock with the Wisconsin Idea Theater, which was funded by the Agriculture Department! For two summers she got to know Wisconsin well through the windows of green State station wagons. The climax was a 3-month USO tour to Europe in the fall of 1965. The Iron Curtain still divided East and West, and their performances were often on classified military bases. One month each in Germany and France, and a third for vacation in Italy and Austria. What a privilege: three carefree months in Europe.
In 1966, Linda married John Charles Clauder, a Madison hairdresser. The marriage provided a window into the fashion world, a different kind of education. They were divorced in 1977.
While working on her master’s degree, a student job as a clerk in the WHA Radio record library led to a full-time job as music librarian, and thus Linda’s entire professional career was spent in public broadcasting. During this time, she also taught voice and diction classes through UWEX, and was a part-time voice teacher at the former Milton College.
When she began her 32-year career at Old Radio Hall, the WHA record library was replacing its 78 rpm discs with new LPs; the FM service was starting to broadcast in stereo, and the only woman on the air was the host of the “homemakers’” program. WHA-TV, at 600 N. Park Street (now the College Library), was producing black and white television programs. There were no underwriters and no statewide networks.
She moved on to music programmer and scriptwriter, and after moving into the new Vilas Hall, to on-air host, music director, program director and production center director. She led Wisconsin Public Radio’s cultural programming from the 70’s into the 80’s. She co-founded the ongoing Live Sunday Concerts at the Chazen Museum and produced and hosted concert series for national distribution. She also hired and mentored many young broadcasting aspirants.
She conducted arguably the first “live call-in” before it became a regular feature of the “talk” service. Her guest, flutist Jean Pierre Rampal, fielded questions from the Afternoon Concert listeners (including a mother who asked him to recommend a flute to buy for her daughter). She co-produced the first live radio-television simulcast of a musical concert, before the Metropolitan Opera got into that business.
She was a board member and past president of the national Association of Music Personnel in Public Radio and received its first Distinguished Service Award.
In 1984 she took a leave of absence to the Los Angeles Olympics and KUSC-FM Radio, where she directed coverage of the 10-week International Olympic Arts Festival, which preceded the games. But she decided she couldn’t be a California girl, and she drove home alone and exhausted.
From ’84 to ’90 she directed an award-winning UW Extension project that produced 13 college credit courses with audio programs, funded and distributed internationally by the Annenberg Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Teams of scholars from across the country converged on Madison to develop the courses, which broke ground in distance education.
In 1990 she moved to Wisconsin Public Television as executive producer for arts and performance programs. From there, she helped create a development program that led to more than $6 million in funding for series on children and youth, political campaign coverage and the Wisconsin Sesquicentennial. She retired in 1998 but returned as a consultant for strategic planning.
Linda was a professor in the UW-Extension department of educational communications, serving on faculty governance committees and twice as a faculty senator. She was a frequent M.C. of the annual Extension Awards Banquet and was honored herself, with the 1997 UWEX Career Award.
In her speech at the Award Banquet, she said this: I’d also like to acknowledge and thank the host of talented and prickly colleagues I’ve had over the years, who taught and challenged me at every turn. It’s been a joy to work where standards are high – excellence the goal – and where ever-improving technology creates ever-new opportunities.
I want to thank an administration that allowed me to grow and change hats so many times. It seems whenever I started to feel restless, some new project came along, and I was encouraged to stretch and grow with it. I changed jobs several times, but never my address. In fact, it’s occurred to me that I’ve been a kind of “arsonist” – I set a lot of little fires, fanned the flames, found someone else to tend them, and moved on to a new opportunity. That has suited me very well.
I don’t think of myself as old, or that 30 years is such a long time. But in broadcasting it is: When I first walked into Old Radio Hall, there was no NPR, PBS, CPB, no satellites in the sky. Radio had just gone to stereo broadcasting; TV was mostly black & white. And today, we’re going digital. – It’s been an interesting time.
My fondest memories, of course, are the years when I could advocate for the arts and artists. My music education only really started the day I entered that fabulous record (now CD) library. And I will treasure forever the hours spent alone in the broadcast studio, with just the music and the listener. (I also treasure some great fights we had over how to pronounce names. – It mattered!)
I also want to thank this University, and Extension, in particular. I’ve been on and off this campus since childhood. My brother and I spent many summer vacations with our grandmother, who had to live near University Hospital. I stayed in campus dorms while attending summer music clinics, I competed here in high school music contests, and I’ve performed in every campus venue, including the Stock Pavilion.
There was never any question that I would attend this University. And when I was a freshman, I parked my car in Grandma’s neighbor’s backyard, which today happens to be the Vilas Hall loading dock. – This is truly my “alma mater”.
Linda was a member of Phi Beta Fraternity for the performing arts, and served as collegiate and alumni president, and Midwest counselor. She was a member of Euterpe Music Club and a board member of Madison Civics Club.
While working, she kept close ties to state, local and campus arts colleagues and served on the boards of Madison Opera Guild, Madison Repertory Theatre, Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society and was founding board president of UW Opera Props. She was on committees for the 1999 Governor’s Cultural Congress, SOS Children’s Villages Benefit, 1980 Madison Civic Center Opening Festival, Bethel Lutheran Church media committee and the founding committee of Madison Friendship Force. She held offices in the UW-Madison School of Music Alumni Association.
As a singer and actress, she performed with Madison Opera, Wisconsin Players, University Opera, Madison Repertory Theater, Madison Theater Guild, Phi Beta play readings, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, Madison Symphony, Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society and WHA Radio and TV productions.
She was resident singer for the American Popular Song classes of the late Prof. Robert Mondschein. With pianist Kay Lindblade and baritone Del Lewis, she toured in musical cabaret shows over a ten-year period (mostly on weekends) under the title “Midwest Revues.”
In 1987, the final and most important chapter of her life began when she met Zorko Greblo at – no surprise – a party after a Sunday Afternoon concert broadcast. She and Zorko became legal partners in 1990 and began a life of travel and intellectual pursuits. The list of countries and states they have visited now fills a page. They made several trips to Croatia, Zorko’s homeland, to visit his late brother Boris and his wife Mirjana. On one memorable trip, September 11th, 2001 to be exact, they had just arrived at the Norwegian homestead of her mother’s family and saw on Norwegian television the Twin Towers in New York City falling in clouds of smoke. In later years, they spent the winter months in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
They met each other’s friends, and together made new ones, who have all brought rich experiences to the couple. When they met, Zorko, a widower, had three unmarried children in their twenties, and Linda’s life became much fuller and challenging as she helped witness their journeys into the job world, marriage, and the births of five granddaughters.
Linda celebrated life and relished her early retirement with Zorko to garden, read, golf, travel and enjoy a wide circle of friends.
She is survived by her partner of 35 years, Dr. Zorko Greblo of Madison, brother Richard Martin of Prairie du Chien, nephew Craig Martin and his wife Lisa of Green Bay. She was preceded in death by her parents, Clyde and Juanita Vogel Martin, her sister-in-law Sharon Martin, and her nephew Rick Martin.
Also surviving her are Zorko’s children, René Greblo and wife Siena Esposito of Chicago, and their daughters Simone and Genevieve; Vivian Greblo and Dan Wolf of Alexandria, VA, and their daughter Nina; and Paul and Susan Greblo of Madison, and their daughters Cecily and Rosamond.
A Memorial Service will be held at 12 Noon on Friday, May 13, 2022 at the Cress Center, 6021 University Avenue, Madison. A visitation will be held one hour prior to the service. A reception will follow the service. The service will be lived streamed at the below.
Suggested remembrances: UW Madison School of Music Alumni Scholarships, Prairie du Chien High School Futures Scholarship Fund, or an arts organization.
6021 University Ave. Madison
Friday, May 13, 2022
11:00am - 12:00pm (Central time)
Friday, May 13, 2022
Starts at 12:00pm (Central time)
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