Arnold H. Potthast

Arnold H. Potthast

Arnold H. Potthast, age 89, passed away surrounded by his family on Sunday, August 19, 2012 at Waunakee Manor. Arnold was born April 14, 1923 in Harvey ND, the youngest of six children born to Christian H. and Othelia (Raugust) Potthast. Arnold attended grade school at Harvey ND and graduated from high school in 1941 in Fessenden ND. He was very active in athletics, including football, track and baseball. In the fall of 1941, he enrolled at Valley City State College with a goal of teaching. In March 1942, Arnold and three friends decided to quit school and go to work before going into the service. They arrived in Bremerton, WA where Arnold was employed as an electricians’ helper at the Puget Sound Navy Yard. The next nine months was spent doing electrical work on the USS Nevada and the USS California which had been sent back from Pearl Harbor for repairs. In March, 1943, Arnold was inducted from North Dakota into the U.S. Army where he served 34 months active duty and achieved the rank of sergeant with the HQ Battery of the 45th Infantry Division in Germany. He returned to Wisconsin on September 12, 1945 and was discharged from active duty from Camp McCoy in February 1946.

It was the fall of 1945 while on furlough visiting his brother and mother in Mauston that he met his future wife Vivian Buchholz from Norwalk, WI. Arnold enrolled at the Stout Institute in June, 1946 and graduated with a BS in Industrial Education after four and a half years of commuting between Menomonie and La Crosse. Arnold and Vivian were married on August 26, 1950 in Sparta. He contracted to teach industrial arts at Mauston High School in 1950. He left Mauston in 1953 to teach at the Racine Vocational and Adult Education School. His primary emphasis was teaching and coordinating the electrical apprentice students and the adult post-secondary electrical courses. He established an advisory group made up of labor and industry. While at Racine he developed a two year Associate Degree program in electronics. This program is still in operation and is part of the offerings at Gateway Technical College. In 1956 he completed a Master’s Degree in Vocational Education at Stout. In 1961, Arnold decided to switch to school administration, accepting the position of Director of the Port Washington Vocational and Adult Education System. In 1964 he was employed by the State Board of Vocational and Adult Education as a supervisor in the Manpower Development Training (MDTA) program. This national program, developed with the vocational board and working in cooperation with the industrial commission and the technical colleges, provided job training for the unemployed in industry and business. In 1973, Arnold was promoted to Chief of Trade and Industry and Apprenticeship Education. He supervised program consultants working in cooperation with the sixteen Wisconsin Technical Colleges statewide.

Arnold retired from the Wisconsin Board of Vocational and Technical Education in July, 1988. He and his wife, who liked to travel, touched down in 25 countries during their retirement. His favorites were Egypt and Germany. Arnold loved sports. He played quarterback at UW Stout, was catcher for a semi-pro baseball team and golfed for many years. He was a member of Bethel Lutheran Church, a life member of VFW Post #8483, and Elks Lodge #410. Arnold was also a member of the Northside Planning Council in the planning of the Warner Park Community Center.

Arnold leaves behind his loving wife of 62 years, Vivian; two children, Tenley Meyer and Kent Potthast; two granddaughters, Rachel and Lisa Meyer; great-great-granddaughter, Jakiya Woods; and his sister, Caroline Tosh of St. Louis, MO. He is further survived by several nieces, nephews and cousins.

He was preceded in death by his parents; three brothers; one sister; and his son-in-law, Ron “Bear” Meyer.

The family gratefully acknowledges the care and support from Agrace HospiceCare, Waunakee Manor and Legacy Gardens.

Private family services will be held at a later date.