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Obituary

Lloyd Frank Bitzer
January 2, 1931 - October 13, 2016

Lloyd Frank Bitzer

Lloyd Frank Bitzer
Jan 2, 1931 - Oct 13, 2016

Lloyd Frank Bitzer
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Lloyd Frank Bitzer died October 13, 2016 at the family home at age 85. From 1961 to 1994 he was a professor at the University of Wisconsin, specializing in the history and theory of rhetoric. During his retirement, he and his wife Jo Ann worked together on a biography of English deist Peter Annet. The family lived on Shady Oak Lane in the Town of Verona. From age 22 until his departure from the world, he was the lucky husband of Jo Ann.

Lloyd was born January 2, 1931, in Wapakoneta, Ohio, to Clarence R. Bitzer and Olive (Fields) Bitzer. The family next lived a few years at Avilla, Indiana, next at Syracuse, Indiana, and later Carmi, Illinois. He attended high school at Carmi, graduating in 1949. He was an undergraduate at Southern Illinois University from 1950 to 1952, then served two years in the U.S. Navy, after which he completed his B. S. and M.A. degrees. In 1957-8 he was a philosophy graduate student at the University of North Carolina; then moved in 1958 to the University of Iowa where he earned the Ph. D. degree in rhetorical studies. He came to Madison in 1961 as an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In his professional life he performed the usual tasks of teaching undergraduate and graduate students, directing theses and dissertations, doing research and writing, and in several ways serving his department, university, and professional organizations. In 1976 he was president of the National Communication Association. As a professor in the humanities, in which scientific method, evidence and precision are never decisive, he wrote essays and books that came as close to truth as he could manage. He did not admire authors who published works that were merely first drafts, their homework, or unreflective pieces, which though thought by them to be monumental, were of little worth. As a teacher, he supplied students with original writings by the best authors.

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Jo Ann (Eblen) Bitzer, born and raised at McLeansboro, Illinois; a daughter Jo Claire and her husband Herman Tucker, Madison; a son Evan, Verona; two grandchildren, Danny (Kimberly) and Jolene Bitzer, and their mother Kim; and a great-grandson Lincoln Eric Bitzer (son of Danny and Kimberly). Two sons predeceased him: Eric T. Bitzer (father of Danny and Jolene), and Jeffrey C. Bitzer. Of his siblings, those deceased are Clarence William Bitzer and Helen (Bitzer) Sheets. One brother, James Mark Bitzer, lives in Oakland, California.

Death, he thought, is very probably but a transition to an eternal rest as peaceful as was the eternity that preceded it. Why then should one complain about having to depart after existing eighty or so years? As18th century author Peter Annet wrote: "As the frailties of age tend to make life a burden, it can be no great hardship, one would think, to be delivered from it by death. Men indeed have a very absurd appetite of life, and are willing to survive every enjoyment which can make it valuable: but nature consults our interest better; one friendly stroke makes the virtuous happy; and had men no expectation beyond the grave, our own follies, and the injustice of others, frequently make this world so tedious a tragi-comedy, that the concluding scene ought not in reason to displease us." ( Reflections on Man, 1733)

A gathering will be held at a later date.

Please share your memories of Lloyd.

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Lynn Standridge on Nov 7, 2016

Another Bitzer leaves us. I'm so sorry to know of Uncle Lloyd's passing. Love to Jo Ann, Jo and Evan. Lynn(Bitzer)Standridge

Kristine Viney on Oct 26, 2016

Professor Bitzer was one of my favorite bosses. I worked for Lloyd when he was the chair at Communication Arts. I am very sorry for your loss. Kriss Viney

Jacqueline Schiappa on Oct 26, 2016

I was so saddened to hear of Lloyd's passing. I never met Dr. Bitzer personally, but I will never forget reading his work on rhetoric over a decade ago. The impact of his scholarship resonates with me as a person, scholar, and teacher. He helped me understand how words shape the meaning of experiences. I use his work to empower students to understand how words matter; they're better for it. I hope that he, and his family, find some grace in knowing his legacy continues to impact lives they've never met.

Barbara Bitzer on Oct 23, 2016

Dear Jo Ann, Jo Claire and Evan ~ thinking of you at this sad time. I missed you at the reunion in August and was so sad to hear of Lloyd's death. With sympathy and love, Barbara Bitzer

Charles Scott on Oct 23, 2016

I was startled and immediately saddened when I opened the paper the other day to learn that Lloyd Bitzer had passed on. Our careers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison corresponded almost exactly, he in the Department of Communication Arts, me in the Department of English. From different locations near Bascom hill, we knew one another mainly through that virtually iconic of faculty activities, service on committees. How many I do not remember. But that is how I came to know Lloyd and soon enough to appreciate his quiet wisdom and sensible take on campus issues. One could not ask for a more appropriate person than Lloyd Bitzer to assess some of the vexing concerns facing university administration and faculty involvement, especially during the turbulent era of the late '60s and early '70s. If one listened to him in committee discussions, one inevitably learned. He was an outstanding credit to his department, the College of Letters and Science, and the University of Wisconsin. We were fortunate to have his service through his exemplary career on our faculty. I will also miss his friendship greatly.

David Kaufer on Oct 20, 2016

Professor Bitzer put his heart and soul in teaching. He made sure his students understood his beloved authors (Aristotle first it seemed) from the inside. After giving me the skill to develop my own ideas, he gave me the encouragement to believe that my ideas mattered. His work on rhetorical situation remains one of the singular contributions of rhetorical studies and will be cited for decades to come. RIP.

David Kaufer

John Bowers on Oct 19, 2016


I just learned that Lloyd Bitzer died on October 13. He and I were graduate students together at Iowa in the early sixties, and he was my closest friend in the discipline. He stayed with my older children while my youngest was being born, and I helped him move some heavy furniture from Iowa City to Madison. I remember when he patiently explained to me the meaning of "enthymeme." I was the first house guest in the distinguished structure he and Jo built in Verona.

A couple of months ago, he emailed me a note about his health, commenting that he'd fallen several times recently. The only thing golden about golden aging, he said, is the color of one's urine.

--John Waite Bowers

Elif Guler on Oct 17, 2016

Rest in peace, Professor Bitzer! I didn't have a chance to meet you personally, but like many other rhetoricians, I've benefited greatly from your ideas on rhetoric--ideas that we continue to live by and that we will proudly continue to teach our students. Thank you for everything!

Jim Farrell on Oct 17, 2016

Lloyd was one of my Wisconsin rhetoric professors from 1983 to 1988, and one of the main reasons I went to Wisconsin. He was a generous and patient teacher, with very high standards that made all of us better scholars. I have many fond memories of Lloyd as a mentor and friend, and will cherish the brief time I spent with him at a recent academic conference. Well done, good and faithful servant.

suzanne poggio on Oct 17, 2016

Jo Ann, our deepest condolences to you and your family. May you find comfort in one another during this sad time. Suzanne and Frank Poggio.

Peter C. Williams on Oct 16, 2016

I have fond memories of a class I had in parliamentary procedure taught by Prof. Bitzer in about 1964. Rather than use Roberts Rules of Order, he taught from a book by Sturgis which I have used up until recently. The class met in a small classroom in Bascom Hall twice a week. My thoughts and racers go out to his family.

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