The Passing of a Legend

by Charlesetta Thompson, photo by Tess Reiss

Frank Zeidler, always a fan of history and particularly the history of Milwaukee, holds a copy of Tom Tolan’s Riverwest: A Community History, in late 2003. Active until the end, recently Zeidler talked of retiring. We were blessed that he chose to share his ideas and memories into his 90’s. Frank’s Book

Civic treasure and legend, former Mayor, Frank P. Zeidler passed away at the age of 93 on July 7, 2006.

Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church was filled beyond capacity, and mourners spilled out onto the sidewalk on Wednesday July 12 as they paid their respects to Zeidler, who was well loved by many. A rainbow of people came from all walks of life; friends, neighbors, politicians, entertainers and community leaders (both young and old) were in attendance. Former mayors Norquist and Pratt were among the dignitaries. Mayor Barrett, Charlotte Bleistein, Socialist Party representative; Richard Leonard, United Nations Association, Greater Milwaukee Chapter; Harrison Addison, Vice President, Central North Community Council; John Gurda, historian and Zeidler’s daughter gave reflections.

Collectively the speakers talked about his character, describing him as a man of honesty and integrity, who possessed compassion for his fellow man. He was a mayor for the common people. Zeidler, the last Socialist mayor, served for three terms from 1948 to 1960. His terms were marked by large-scale construction of public housing, the construction of the first educational television station in Wisconsin, slum clearance and several city beautification programs.

After his retirement, Mayor Zeidler remained active in the Socialist Party on the national, state and local levels. Zeidler was a multi-faceted man. He was known as a historian, an avid reader and a fine poet, and that’s only a small sampling of his talents and attributes. He lived life to the fullest up to the end; a public and a private man, a gentle spirit who taught us how to live, how to give and how to grow old! May he rest in peace.


Riverwest Currents online edition – August, 2006