In Honor of Harold (Hal) Grutzmacher

Even as Harold (Hal) Grutzmacher took higher positions in higher education – first as an English professor at Carthage College, then Knox College, a chairman of the English Department at Parsons College, Vice President of Academic Affairs at the University of Tampa, and Dean of Students at his alma mater, Beloit College – he taught Freshman English classes. His passion for the written word, as well as his desire to create an accessible, inviting environment for creativity is the tenet under which this contest is conducted.

An influential member of the Door County community, Hal Grutzmacher was an avid reader, writer, poet, columnist, critic, editor, and bookstore owner who, according to his son Stephen Grutzmacher, “took his poetry seriously” while the sports articles he wrote for the Door County Advocate were “fun for him.” His literary passions: writing about the Cubs, whom he got press credentials to cover, and studying the Romantic poets, especially William Wordsworth – though he appreciated a wide range of poets: Theodore Rofke, Dylan Thomas and Robert Pinski.

Of his own writing, Stephen remembers that “Wherever we lived, [Hal] always had his own den. Talk radio was always on in the background.” His writing appeared in a number of publications, along with two volumes of poetry, Giants of My World, published by Golden Quill Press (Scribner’s) and Generations, published by Spoon River Poetry Press and co-authored with Stephen.

What the public may remember of Hal is his ability and desire to encourage persons to read and write.

“He had a good and skilled ear,” says Stephen. “He could read your stuff and provide criticism without telling you how it should be done.” Hal seemed to stress two important elements in regard to creative ambition: individuality and craft – two elements that have influenced a number of individuals throughout Hal’s lifetime and have continued after his passing – as is evident throughout the following pages.