Henry X. Dudek Obituary


James wrote this starting at 5:30 A.M. on Sunday morning.  With tears and care he produced a memory of Henry in four hours that will be printed in this Sunday’s Wisconsin State Journal.  We are all proud of his words. 

-Madison, Wisconsin
Henry X. Dudek insisted that his Spaight Street home be an inviting place where raucous laughter and sparkling conversation shared among friends were the rule.  It was there in his Lake Monona home of so many smiles, merriment and spiritual tranquility that Henry passed away on Friday, May 11, 2007.

Born January, 27, 1941 to Anthony and Frances (Osowski) Dudek of New Kensington, Pennsylvania, Henry grew to a brilliant man, schooled in the classics (Latin and Greek) at Duquesne University, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  Henry soon found that his many talents and skills were just as useful in the classrooms of New Wilmington, PA, and academic counseling offices of Madison, WI, where he began his career as they were in WI Governor Thompson’s budget office, from which he retired several years ago.

Known recently in the blogosphere as “Kerr Mudgeon”, Henry offered his readers “multi-colored tasty morsels of cultural or social critique, kvetch, current events, garden tips, recipes, a bit of philosophy and a whole lot of humor”.  Any one of his often unannounced yet always welcome visitors can confirm that he was funny, opinionated and outré in that way that guys who are comfortable with themselves can be.

Henry breathed classical music and had an astonishing, completely catalogued, collection of CDs.  He also had two season tickets to the symphony–one for himself, and one so he could share the gift of music with others.  In fact, Henry, an altar boy as a youth, long hoped that when he gets to Heaven, Saint Peter will hand him a harp, not an accordion!

Henry loved TV, and films, entertaining, gardening, eating, napping, and chocolate.  His many friends, who enjoyed the ever-ready teapot and treats, will miss his wide ranging observations on everything from language, and how he thought words should be more efficiently spelled, to flowers.  Henry, a self-taught gardener with an eye for beautiful color combinations and an Olbrich Gardens aficionado, willingly gave of his plant material, enlivening the hearts and surroundings of many; he was generous to a fault.

Henry had, over the years, two other loves in his life.  Henry’s first cat, Miss Jeoffry Fluffball Smart, would never let him feel sadness.  She would crawl onto his lap, pull herself to full height, and then place her sweet little paw on his cheek right under his eye as if to wipe the tears.  His current companion, Maurice T. Marmalade, a furry, loveable dictator, was not above letting Henry know that he was, in reality, just staff.

Henry leaves to mourn a close circle of friends:  Paula Gorham, Beth Hastings, Gregory Humphrey, Paulette Quick, Rolf Rodefeld, and James Wilson.  He also could not have been more proud of his mentee, Zeke Schliewe.  There are many others who he hoped would know of his affections, too.  He also leaves behind his family:  sisters, Mary (Joseph) Yates, Donna (Carl) Carman; brother, Robert (special friend Diane), and many nieces and nephews.

At his request, Henry’s ashes will be scattered among the flowers of his gardens, near the tiny grave of Miss Jeoffry; his spirit forever to commune with the beauty of the Lake Monona and the city of Madison, Henry’s home.  In lieu of flowers, his friends and family ask that you contribute to a fund to establish a more lasting public marker in Henry’s honor.  Checks in the name of The Henry Dudek Estate may be mailed in care of Beth Hastings, 2586 Lalor Road, Oregon, WI  53575.  A celebration of Henry’s life will take place at the Westmorland Park, 4114 Tokay Blvd, Madison on Saturday, June 2, 2007, from 3 to 7 PM.  Those wishing to rejoice in the friendship Henry shared with all of us are welcome to attend.

In Henry’s own words, spoken in 2001 when he needed his friends’ support the most, “I find myself grateful and even joy-filled as I awaken each morning and am gladdened by the new day…  appreciate every moment of your life as truly the gift that it is. And never ever forget how important your mere presence can be for another person suffering physical and spiritual pain.” Thank you, Henry, for being such a loyal and thoughtful friend and brother, for it is all of our lives which are richer for having known you.

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9 thoughts on “Henry X. Dudek Obituary

  1. Jim and Bill

    We will miss our dear friend of over 30 years.
    He was an integral part of our Dignity faith
    community for over 19 years. He never failed
    to challenge us to stand up for our GLBT rights
    in our churches and in the broader GLBT community. We enjoyed our visits with Henry
    and Maurice and our lunches at Monty’s. J & B

  2. Vicki (Hogan) Morosky

    Henry Dudek brought a touch of culture and class to our school. I was a 3 year Latin student of Mr. Dudek’s at Wilmington Area H.S. He was an outstanding teacher who seemed to love what he did. I’m sorry I didn’t get to know him as an adult. I know he would have been a lot of fun, interesting, and still a wonderful teacher. Rest in Peace, Mr. Dudek. Vicki

  3. John Young

    I was a classmate of Vicki’s at Wilmington Area. I had Henry for 3 years of Latin and as an advisor on the school newspaper. I had often wondered what happened to HXD when he left New Wilmington shortly after my class graduated. Unfortunately, I never I googled him until today and am sorry that he has passed on, but happy that he found such a wonderful community of friends in Wisconsin. He was a great teacher and human being.

  4. Richard Somerville-Ryan

    I met Henry as an exchange student at New Wilmington. A great teacher; good friend and advisor. Happily contacted him again many years later–the internet is wonderful.

    God Bless Old Friend.


  5. Karen Gorley Reinhart

    I, too, was one of Mr. Dudek’s 3-year Latin students at Wilmington Area High School, as was my older brother, and the two of us and another brother worked with him on the school newspaper. HXD treated each us with dignity and respect like no other teacher. We returned the favor. He saw us as individuals, not as just students. In addition to teaching us to read, write, and speak Latin as a language like Spanish or French, he brought out the best in each of us as people. He was the only teacher we invited to dinner at our family home. I am saddened to read of the passing of this great man.

  6. Dear Mr. Dudek,

    How can I tell you what you and your 3 years of Latin at Wilmington Area High School meant to me? You awakened me to the possibility of a “dead” language being alive, giving each one of us a Latin name, which you always addressed us by. I remember sometime during the third year feeling like I was starting to think in Latin. You tried so hard to offer us a fourth year, those of us in the academic track of the class of ’69, coming up with a proposal to combine Latin IV with Advanced Composition so that we could get all our coursework in before graduating. You were always sensitive to my individual needs as a very shy student, and I am grateful for your kindness. Your teaching of Latin via the new approach to linguistic analysis called Transformational Generative Grammar, by Noam Chomsky, was a harbinger of my future studies in linguistics at the undergraduate and master’s levels. I kept your mimeographed Latin I text for years. One day you were observed teaching by Professor Schoenhard from Westminster College, and afterward he bubbled, “What can you say about a teacher who skips up to the front of the room exclaiming, ‘Alrighty-ho-ro!’?” Your enthusiasm and creative approach to teaching remains with me, making me smile again as I think of you. In our final year, you gave each student a round eraser with your penned signature “HXD.” I kept that simple treasure for years. Thank you for all your tangible and intangible gifts, Mr. Dudek.

    Salve, Magister!

    Joanna (Allison Jane Edwards)

  7. Dear Readers,
    Just after I posted my letter to Mr. Dudek, I saw him in front of me, looking as he had as my high school Latin teacher. I heard, “Salve,” and I thought, did I write “Salve” or “Vale” in my posting. I checked, and though I had meant to say “Good-bye” I had actually said “Hello,” and it turns out that “Hello” was the right thing after all.
    In fond memory of Henry Xavier Dudek,
    Allison Edwards

  8. I feel I must make one more comment regarding Henry Dudek, this time specifically highlighting his humor. I’m smiling as I recall that if any of his students suffered a stuffy nose or scratchy throat, he or she had only to ask Mr. Dudek for one of his “mental epileptic pills” to get relief. Others might know this remedy by its more common name, menthol eucalyptus drops.
    Katrina (Karen Gorley Reinhart)

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