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City says goodbye to 'Mr. Wauwatosa'

April 9, 2014

From spring cleanups to serving at the food pantry to a long stint of service on the Common Council, it is not difficult to look around Wauwatosa and see the impact Dick Bachman had on the community.

Bachman, who was known by the nickname "Mr. Wauwatosa," died Saturday at age 83.

For more than 40 years, Bachman took part in a long list of projects that remain in place to this day. He also made pivotal decisions as an alderman on the Common Council. He served for 24 years — from 1968 to 1984 and again from 1990 to 1998.

"I learned to spell my name by putting up campaign signs with him," said his son, also named Richard. "He was my mentor, my role model and my best friend."

Many longtime Tosans have similar sentiments to those shared by Bachman's son.

From parishioner to commissioner, Bachman was a man always willing to roll up his sleeves, longtime Wauwatosa resident Tom Ertel said. He first met Bachman at Mt. Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church and later knew him through the city's Parks and Forestry Commission.

Ertel and Bachman worked closely together on the Tosa Cares program, which grew out of a prior initiative known as Tosa for Kids. Over the years, organizers behind Tosa Cares have been instrumental in the food pantry and other supply drives.

"Dick really reached out to the entire community," Ertel said. "He had a way about making everyone else look good because he wasn't out for himself. He was out for the entire community."

As he has poured over assorted scrapbooks in preparation of his father's funeral, Richard Bachman said he remains in awe of his father and the assorted contributions he made over the years.

"He really was very accomplished, and everything he did was from his heart," Bachman's son said. "It's quite interesting looking back at all of his accomplishments. There's no way I could ever follow completely in his footsteps."

Until recent years, Bachman would work in lock-step with his wife, Gloria, who died in 2009. The couple were named Wauwatosa's Distinguished Citizens of the Year late in 2009, though the award was bestowed posthumously for Gloria.

Some of Bachman's other accomplishments over the years included co-founding the city's recycling program in the early 1970s. While it is a staple today in all municipalities, recycling was a relatively new concept 40 years ago.

Bachman also was a longtime volunteer of the city's National Night Out celebration and spearheaded annual spring cleanup activities at Hart Park.

He and his wife also were known to meticulously inspect the U.S. flags that dot North Avenue, from 60th Street to 124th Street.

"My dad would perform repairs to the flags, when needed," Richard Bachman said. "He did this very regularly."

In addition to Richard, who is married to Sue, the Bachmans leave behind two other children: Sandra (Chris) Pie and Scott (Jenny) Bachman.

The family is requesting donations be made to the Bachman Flag Fund, c/o City of Wauwatosa, 7725 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa, WI 53213.

Funeral services

WHEN: visitation from 10 a.m. until the service begins at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 12

WHERE: Schmidt & Bartelt Funeral Home, 10121 W. North Ave.

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