Fritz A. Albert

Fritz A. Albert

Fritz Albert died on 16 September from complications related to living for 90 years.

Fritz was born in Mylau Germany to Martha and Paul Alfred Albert. From a young age Fritz showed great interest and talent in photography and attended Bayerische Staatslehranstalt für Lichtbildwesen (Bavarian State School of Photography) to pursue this interest immediately after high school. His technical school studies were cut short by military service as a reconnaissance photographer in the Luftwaffe, where he was able to hang out of open cockpits to get “the” shot, despite his life-long acrophobia. After the German surrender he spent time in an American POW camp, but on his release he went to work as a photographer for a German agricultural development agency. In this work he met and befriended several members of the University of Wisconsin Department of Agricultural Journalism. These new friends helped him to attend a University of Wisconsin short course at the Madison campus. There he made more new friends and came to feel that he wanted to make Wisconsin the new home for our family. Both Fritz and his wife Ingeborg were deeply moved by the kindness they experienced from many Americans- their wartime enemies- and they tried to teach their children to pay that kindness forward.

In 1954 Fritz joined the Ag Journalism staff and stayed at UW the rest of his working life. In addition to Ag Journalism, Fritz worked with UW Extension and the Land Tenure Center–issues of land ownership reform were very important to him. He eventually made full professor; this and all his promotions were earned entirely with his archetypical work ethic and artistic eye, as he never had the opportunity to pursue degrees beyond his technical school certificate. He was also active in efforts to promote understanding between Germany and the United States and those efforts earned him the Cross of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany. Fritz abhorred recreational camping, but thought nothing of slogging through swamps with movie cameras on his back and sleeping on the ground “for work”. He had an extraordinarily rich career, making films on every aspect of agriculture from improving cheese production to agrarian reform in Chile. More than 80 of his films are in the University of Wisconsin Bureau of Audio Visual Instruction library. For every film he worked with an expert on the subject matter, so he was constantly learning new disciplines while he practiced his craft of cinematography. In addition to his work for UW, Fritz spent his own time shooting film for progressive candidates, including the pioneer of environmental responsibility Senator Gaylord Nelson. He never forgot his experiences growing up in NAZI Germany and serving in the Luftwaffe, and did his best to oppose war and extremism in his chosen homeland.

Fritz was preceded in death by his wife Ingeborg, his son Carl, and his sister Christa Göring. He is survived by daughters Johanna (Alta), Elisabeth (John), Christine (Tom); sons Heinrich (Kathy) and Loon (Tracie); grandchildren Ansley (Fred IV), Ariel (Patrick), Christopher, Lucy, and Henry, and great grandson Fred V.

A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held 23 September at 1PM in the Tree of Life Chapel at Oakwood Village East 5565 Tancho Dr. Madison. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Alzheimer’s and Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin Fritz received great care and kindness from the staff of “The Meadows” at Oakwood Village East and the staff of Agrace HospiceCare; our entire family thanks them warmly.

Finally, we want to make clear that contrary to inexplicable popular belief, our father did not inspire the expression “on the Fritz”.