OBITUARY: Brueske Shared his Love for Art
By JESSE GARZA of the Journal Sentinel staff
William Brueske spent his last moments on a hospital bed, teaching his 13-year-old grandson how to draw a human face: the relationship between the eyes and the nose; where to place the ears; how to use light and dark shadowing; how to sharpen a pencil with a razor blade. "He never stopped teaching," his son Kurt said Thursday.
Funeral services will be held today for Brueske, who died Tuesday of congestive heart failure at age 72, and who taught art in the Wauwatosa School District for 38 years.
"His teaching was more like an exposure to something new and wonderful," said Kurt Brueske, of Colorado Springs, Colo. "It drove him to inspire people to look at reality in a non-conventional way."
He was born William Donald Brueske on March 8, 1930, in Madison to Frederich and Marie Brueske. He graduated from Madison East High School before earning bachelor's and master's degrees in art education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He then taught at the former Milwaukee Downer College, buildings that are now part of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus.
In 1954 Brueske began teaching art at Wauwatosa East High School before going to Longfellow Junior High School in 1955. He spent the duration of his career there, teaching his students how "to interpret reality through artistic expression."
"His method was to associate art with science, history and other subjects," said his wife Ardele, herself a former art educator. "It incorporated the whole learning scenario that surrounded the child."
He also spent hours teaching art to his children, grandchildren and his neighbors' children, whose parents were also showered with his craft. "He would give them the most eccentric figurines," his wife said. The figurines spoke volumes of his friends' personalities without uttering a word.
Once, when a neighbor turned 80, Brueske carved a 6-inch wooden statue of the man, complete with an artificial hip. A plant grew out of one of his thumbs. He carried a golf club, a tool kit and an oil can and stood on a lawn mower. "The man's head was hollow," Ardele recalled. "Inside his head was a picture of his wife."
After retiring in 1992, Brueske played cards and Monopoly and taught art to his grandchildren. "Family was the most important thing," his son said. And he entertained friends. "He'd put the chairs on the driveway and soon there would be five more chairs, with retired men telling stories," his wife said. "People just gravitated to him."
Brueske is also survived by daughters Nadyne Brueske of Wauwatosa, Jackie Reiss of Waukesha, Jennifer DeThier of Brookfield and another son, Erich Brueske of Elm Grove.
Visitation will be today at 5 p.m. at Calvary Lutheran Church in Brookfield, followed by a memorial service at 7 p.m.
Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on April 5, 2002.