Lloyd Frank Bitzer

January 2, 1931 ~ October 13, 2016 (age 85)


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.

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