Werner Bundschuh, 70, documentary filmmaker

Werner Bundschuh
Werner Bundschuh

Werner M. Bundschuh, documentary filmmaker and a developer of historic properties, died at The Maples, his home on The Common in Royalston on Friday, August 19, 2011. Werner was removing a gutter and accidentally fell from the porch roof. He was 70 years old.

A man from modest beginnings, Werner was the son of immigrants, Ludwig and Marie Bundschuh, and was born on February 24, 1941 in Floral Park, Long Island. He grew up on a poultry farm and spent much of his early childhood trying to avoid working on the farm. After graduating from Plainview High School in 1959, Werner enlisted in the Navy and became the newspaper editor on the aircraft carrier, USS Wasp.

Despite encouragement from his parents to enter trade school after the Navy (he was told in high school that he was “not college material”), Werner set his sights on a local junior college and then received a scholarship to Boston University’s School of Public Communications. It was the early 1960s and Werner became editor of the BU News where he was an activist and champion of the freedom of the press. While at BU, he met his wife of 45 years, Patience (Westcott). Werner graduated from BU in 1965 with a major in film production.

A cameraman, writer, editor and producer, Werner began his career in film and television at WGBH-TV in Boston. Over the years he wrote and produced many programs, a number of them broadcast nationally on PBS, including “The Totalitarian Temptation,” and “The Bomb That Fizzled” for the series “In Search of the Real America,” as well as directing “The Ancient Mariners” for the series “Out of the Past.”

He was a founding partner with Henry Hampton of BlackSide, Inc., which produced the award-winning series, “Eyes on the Prize,” an epic six-part presentation of the historic black struggle for human and civil rights. In 1984 he produced “Campaign Fever” which won a New England Emmy. His work also brought him around the world. His daughter’s first birthday was on location in Israel and his teenage son spent a winter working with him in Guatemala.

In between film jobs, Werner renovated historic homes and buildings in Charlestown, MA. He and Patience combined a unique flair and sense of style with respect for tradition to the construction and restoration of buildings in Charlestown, and they did much of the work with their own hands.

In 1979, Werner moved his family to The Maples, in Royalston, which, over the last 32 years, had become his life’s work and passion.

Werner involved himself in the social and civic life of the communities where he lived. Werner had recently been elected to the board of the Bunker Hill Monument Association, and he was a founding member of The Charlestown Preservation Society; he served as chairman and member of the Royalston Selectboard, and was a board member of the Athol-Royalston Regional School Committee, the Royalston Academy, and served as a trustee of the First Congregational Church of Royalston.

With his snow-white beard and twinkling eyes, riding his lawn mower, working with his backhoe, or at the wheel of a 1932 Lagonda, Werner had an old world courtliness that combined with his very American humor. To Werner, The Maples had always been more than just a home – it is a piece of history to be preserved, celebrated and shared; a meeting place, refuge, and entertaining space for family, friends and neighbors. As much as the films and television programs he produced, his greatest production was the life he made and the friends he touched. This is Werner Bundschuh’s legacy.

In addition to his wife and countless friends, Werner leaves his children Emily and Damon, son-in-law Chris, grandsons Oren and Isaac, his brother Ernie, sister-in-law Haydee, and their children and grandchildren.

A celebration of Werner’s life will be held from 2-4PM on Tuesday, August 23rd, at The Maples, 17 On the Common, Royalston, Mass. As an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions may be made to the Friends of the Phinehas S. Newton Library, PO Box 133, Royalston, MA 01368.

Werner BundschuhWerner M. Bundschuh, documentary filmmaker and developer of historic properties, died at The Maples, his home on The Common in Royalston, MA, on Friday, August 19, 2011. Werner was removing a gutter and accidentally fell from the porch roof. He was 70 years old.

A resident of Royalston, MA and Charlestown, MA, Werner was born on February 24, 1941 in Floral Park, Long Island. He graduated from Boston University in 1965 and began his career in television and film. Werner spent much of his life renovating historic buildings in Charlestown, MA.

In addition to his wife, Patience, and countless friends, Werner is survived by his children Emily and Damon, grandsons, Oren and Isaac, his brother, Ernie, sister-in-law, Haydee, and their children and grandchildren. A celebration of Werner’s life will be held from 2-4 PM on Tuesday, August 23rd, at The Maples, 17 On the Common, Royalston, MA.

As an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions may be made to the Friends of the Phinehas S. Newton Library, PO Box 133, Royalston, MA 01368. For more information or to share a memory, go to:
www.higginsoconnorfuneralhome.com.

I have the sad duty to report that Werner Bundschuh passed away yesterday following an accident while he was working on his beloved home in Royalston.

Patience asked me to help let people know.  His family are in the early stages of planning a gathering this coming Tuesday (8/23) afternoon 2-4pm in the gardens at the Royalston place.  An announcement should be forthcoming.

I plan to attend, but am currently on location in northern Maine and have limited phone service.  If you want, you can call Liane Brandon for more information at 617-782-9148 or 617-620-1943 (cell).

Needless to say we are shocked and greatly saddened at this terrible loss.

The Lowell Council Ditty (1949)


From Larry Creshkoff

a song from the past. It’s sung to the tune of "There is nothing like a dame" (from South Pacific) and was performed for the first (and only) time at the Christmas party of the Lowell Institute Cooperative Broadcasting Council staff in the library of the building at 28 Newbury Street where LICBC was housed before the move to Symphony Hall in ’51. (At the time, 28 Newbury Street was headquarters of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The last time I remember looking, it was the Boston location of Elizabeth Arden!)

The Lowell Institute Cooperative Broadcasting Council (LICBC) was the forerunner of WGBH. Established in 1946 by Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, and Tufts — with the venerable Lowell Institute as the "spearhead" entity — its mission was to create educational programs using faculty and content from the member institutions.

The programs were to be broadcast by major Boston AM radio stations as part of their public service obligations. At its peak in 1949, some three hours per week were aired during prime time in regular series on such subjects as the humanities, meteorology, music history, behavioral sciences, child care, and international affairs.

The ditty that follows was created for the staff Christmas party in 1949, the same year that South Pacific (with Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza) played in Boston prior to its New York opening.

LICBC Alma Mater

(To the tune of There is nothing like a dame)

I. We are out to teach the masses here at LICBC
All the things they might have learned at Harvard University.
You don’t have to go to college ? you can listen to a station.
What do you get? AN EDUCATION!

Chorus
Education’s what we share
At L.I.C.B. C.
There is nothing quite so rare
As the stuff we put on the air.

II. We get kudos from professors, we get Peabody Awards,
And our loyalty ain?t questioned by investigating boards.
We get letters from our listeners, who are just like you and me.
What don’t we get? Publicity!

Chorus

III. We have Howard Mumford Jones1 or Willis Wager2; if you?d rather,
You can listen to Fred Morris3 as he talks with Kirtley Mather.4
We have good old Charlie Havice,5 who can straddle any fence.
What don’t we have? AN AUDIENCE!

Chorus

IV. We can talk about sex … we can talk about crime …
We can talk about drink … or have a good time …
We can do politics … or Plato for kicks …
But two things we can’t do (though we could)
Are the Old Testament and Planned Parenthood!
At L.I. C.B. L.I. C.B. C!

Chorus Finale

Notes

1. Distinguished scholar of American Literature at Harvard.

2. Professor of Humanities at Boston University College of General Studies. (Hard "g" in "Wager.")

3. MIT Professor of Earth Sciences.

4. Professor of Geology at Harvard, social activist in the peace movement, and supporter of organized efforts at population control.

5. Professor of Sociology and Dean of Chapel at Northeastern. As a moderator, he famously asked panelists to share their "kindly insights."

Murray Yeager, 75, Boston University professor and mentor

Don Hallock: Yeager was an inspiring teacher and mentor for BU/WGBH scholars.

Murray Yaeger, at 75; challenged students at BU

When Dr. Murray Yaeger invited colleagues to speak to his famous introductory communication course at Boston University, he made them rehearse. ”Otto, I don’t just want you to lecture. I want you to get something alive,” he told fellow professor Otto Lerbinger. Each week, Dr. Yaeger spent more than 25 hours preparing theatrical presentations for the hundreds of communications freshmen enrolled in the course.

For students, the intimidating and stimulating course was ”psychological boot camp” because Dr. Yaeger encouraged them to ”dig deep,” said Hollywood film director and former student Gary Fleder. Dr. Yaeger did not ”allow you to coast on your strengths. He cajoled you to recognize the things you had to prove in your art.”

Murray Yaeger – in memory

Former Professor of Broadcasting, Boston University; former liaison for student interns between Boston University and WGBH; directed World Affairs Council series.

From Murray Yaeger – 2/23/2000

My involvement with the station began in 1956 when I became a professor at what is now the College of Communications at Boston University. I served as a liaison with the station and Bob Moscone of WGBH in following the development of our graduate students enrolled in the ‘GBH Scholarship program. I also directed a World Affairs Council program for the station during the time Dave Davis took over as production head.

It was a great time for both institutions as evidenced by some of the accomplishments of many of its graduates. These included Bob Kerr, Phil Collyer, Bill Cosell, Dave Griffith, Fred Barzyk, Russ Morash, Sue Dietrich, Doug White and the late Bob Squier. As you probably know, Bob died only weeks ago and was reputedly one of the nation’s top political media consultants.

Others who worked in the studios in those days included Bill Lord, formerly vice-president if ABC and a professor at BU; John Henning, political commentator on Boston TV; Al Folsom, screen writer and very successful novelist; Stan Norton of the GBH staff; Thea Chalow who won an Emmy for her “NOVA” work, as well as others whom I cannot at this moment recall.

I now live in Kennebunkport. Just writing this letter brings back a flood of wonderful memories and associations with these former students. So, although I won’t be able to attend the celebration, please convey my fondest regards to any who might remember me. … I have kept in touch with a great many of my former students and should love to know of the present whereabouts of others. …

At this point, I have about seventy-five former students (not all ‘GBH) with whom I am in touch at least at Christmas when I paint a card to send to some 325 people on my mailing list. It’s a terrible job, but I do enjoy hearing back.

I am a partner in a bed and breakfast here in Maine. Been in business for fifteen years — starring Yaeger as the waiter with the PhD. See what you can aspire to with forty years of teaching and an advanced degree.

I retired from BU in 1989, kept a consultant business going and taught at the University of Southern Maine and University of New England for a few years after that. Oh, yes, had a second heart by-pass in 1990 to break the rhythm for a while.

In any case, I am ensconced in Kennebunkport with my Schnauzer, my paint brushes and attic studio, the innkeeper’s duties, theater in Boston and Portland, some travel, and a quiet assortment of friends. Not too bad a life at that. Emma, my dog, and I have the beach walks each morning and comparatively clean air to breathe.

From the Boston Globe (excerpts) – 10/20/2004

Murray Yaeger, at 75; challenged students at BU

When Dr. Murray Yaeger invited colleagues to speak to his famous introductory communication course at Boston University, he made them rehearse. ”Otto, I don’t just want you to lecture. I want you to get something alive,” he told fellow professor Otto Lerbinger. Each week, Dr. Yaeger spent more than 25 hours preparing theatrical presentations for the hundreds of communications freshmen enrolled in the course.

For students, the intimidating and stimulating course was ”psychological boot camp” because Dr. Yaeger encouraged them to ”dig deep,” said Hollywood film director and former student Gary Fleder. Dr. Yaeger did not ”allow you to coast on your strengths. He cajoled you to recognize the things you had to prove in your art.”

Dr. Yaeger, who is remembered for his feisty, conscientious, honest, and devoted teaching in the department of broadcasting and film, died June 13 from prostate cancer in Kennebunkport, Maine. He was 75.

As a dedicated member of the Boston University community, Dr. Yaeger supported faculty camaraderie, lobbying for a faculty lounge. An advocate for students, Dr. Yaeger also encouraged professors to write extended course descriptions so that students could know more about the classes they were choosing. Dr. Yaeger also mentored numerous students.

”You always saw a smile on his face whenever he talked about a specific student,” said Lerbinger.

Once, at a meeting on faculty bylaws at Dr. Yaeger’s home in Maine, Lerbinger said, he ”almost felt I was in Philadelphia writing the Constitution” because of Dr. Yaeger’s fiery resolve. Dr. Yaeger believed ”life is a theater and you’ve got to live up to the role you’re playing,” Lerbinger said.

Passionate about increasing instructors’ involvement in their own leadership, Dr. Yaeger ”was so involved in pursuing this goal that it became contagious, and he carried the rest of us along with his dream,” Lerbinger said.

Norman Noyes, a colleague at Boston University, described Dr. Yaeger as ”a dynamo going full blast all the time. He was either with students or lecturing or preparing for his lectures.”

Fleder, who has directed films including Kiss the Girls and ‘Runaway Jury, said that Dr. Yaeger was the first professor with whom he discussed his career aspirations.

“What was great was that he was skeptical,” Fleder said. ”I remember showing him some of my films when I was in film school. It was scary. His approval meant a lot. He was certainly somebody who could mix encouragement with criticism in a skillful way. If I were to describe the ultimate model of a professor, it would be Murray Yaeger.”

Dr. Yaeger grew up in El Paso, Texas, and graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso and the State University of Iowa. Dr. Yaeger moved east because of his interest in the theater and arts. In 1958, he joined the faculty at Boston University.

He traveled to Cairo to help teach the first generation of Egyptian television broadcasters; to Saudi Arabia to train weathermen; and to Frankfurt to coach Armed Forces Network television staff. He also spent a year studying at London University and at the British Broadcasting Corporation in London.

For a quarter-century, Dr. Yaeger took on consulting projects on the side, working to improve the image of school systems, government agencies, and companies, from the US Air Force and the Internal Revenue Service to New England Telephone, GTE, and the United Way of America.

In 1979, Boston University awarded Dr. Yaeger the Metcalf Prize for Excellence in Teaching, an accolade given to one teacher every year.

Dr. Yaeger worked overtime to show his commitment to education. Lerbinger said he often ”bumped into Murray at school in the evening setting up lights and cameras, getting everything ready.”

On a sabbatical from Boston University in December 1985, Dr. Yaeger and his partner, Mark Bachelder, bought Arundel Meadows Inn, a bed and breakfast in Maine. Dr. Yaeger retired to his home in Maine in 1989 to pursue innkeeping, oil painting, cooking, and taking morning beach walks with his schnauzer, Emma. His former BU students would often visit in Maine, and he taught part time at the University of Southern Maine and the University of New England.

At its 50th anniversary in 1997, the College of Communication at Boston University honored Dr. Yaeger as the faculty member with the greatest impact on his students.

Fleder said, ”When you go to college, if you can have one or two or three professors that really inspire you and provoke you to do better work, then you’re lucky. Murray Yaeger was one of those professors that many students would say that about.”

In addition to Bachelder, Dr. Yaeger leaves his brother, Lanny, of Westfield, Pa.

Dr. Yaeger requested that no funeral be held.