Bauer, Emil “Bernie”

Time period/Baraboo: 1945 – 20??
Submitted by: Judy Nowak

Excellent carpenter and wood craftsman who built 26 homes either alone (self-employed as Bennie Bauer Builders) or as an employee working for Ellison, a local building contractor and remodeled many more homes in the Baraboo community. Bennie could construct a quality home in four months from the ground up. Later in his life, Bennie worked for Brittingham and Hixon Lumber Company as a carpenter and jack of all trades repairing many garage doors for the people of Baraboo, especially the geriatric population.

Bennie was born on March 14, 1925, in New Ulm, Minnesota, the second of four sons. The Bauer family relocated to Wisconsin when Bennie was young. Two weeks before his 8th-grade graduation, Bennie was required to start working full-time to support the family. Bennie was never afforded the opportunity to complete additional education. Bennie lived and worked at the Warrens Hotel in Baraboo where he met the love of his life, Audrey Gustin. Bennie served in the Army in WWI and was involved in D-Day.

After the war, Bennie returned to Baraboo to marry Audrey. Bennie’s resume additionally included being a foundry worker, mechanic, and farmer. Bennie loved farming the land he rented outside of Baraboo. One the farm was sold, Bennie began an apprenticeship in carpentry and woodworking with Erlingson. Bennie and Audrey built their own home. Together Bennie and Audrey raised two children a boy named, Audrey and a girl named Judy. Bennie started his own business, Bennie Bauer Builders, after leaving employment with Erlingson until he retired at age 63.

Brittingham and Hixon [?hired him for a time shortly after his retirement. Bennie’s wife Audrey suffered a fall down the basement stairs that left her wheelchair-bound in 2008?] [Bennie cared for his disabled wife who was also suffering from Alzheimer’s. While continuing to work at Brittingham and Hixon until his terminal illness.

Bennie willingly and happily helped many people in the Baraboo community with home remodeling, home repairs, plumbing, electrical and mechanical needs. Bennie also crafted beautiful wood pieces such as cabinets, mantels, wood garage doors, wall displays, and jewelry boxes. Bennie was an active member of Immanuel Lutheran Church of Merrimac, serving on the church council as treasurer for 45 years and as an usher. He built the church’s communion rail, losing the tip of his finger in the process, as well as the hymnal wall displays.

Bennie would always lend a hand to his family, loved his grandchildren, attended all family events and worked harder than most. Bennie was humble, honest, kind and intelligent, despite his lack of education.

Bennie built the building that currently houses the Circus World Museum’s circus wagons.


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