It is with great sorrow that we have to say goodbye to Arthur L. Altenburg, Mosinee. He passed away March 22nd, 2021 as a result of injuries he suffered in a sole vehicle accident when the automobile he was driving left the road and overturned. Art was born December 5th, 1929 in Knowlton, son of the late James and Cecilia (Daniecki) Altenburg.
He served with valor in the US Navy from 1948 to 1952 on the U.S.S. Essex warship specializing in training pilots who then took up their role in defending our country. Upon discharge, he entered a career of car sales working for two Chevrolet Milwaukee dealerships selling cars and trucks for several years, becoming a top salesman and manager.
Beginning as a very young man, music was always his calling. He learned to play the concertina, frequently hitchhiking to take his lessons, eventually resulting in the lifelong dream of having his own bar. He became owner of the famous Concertina Bar in Milwaukee where he became prominently known and gave residents of the city a place to come and enjoy polka music for 27 years, welcoming everyone from the highest level politicians, to factory workers.
He gave all skill levels a chance to display their talents and play concertina, as well as other instruments at a weekly jam session which---like all nights of live music---always generated a packed-house crowd. He was a long-time recognized and inducted member in the Wisconsin Concertina Hall of Fame. Few individuals will have had a greater impact and influence in the polka music lifestyle. He was so endeared to the many concertinas he had proudly displayed across the back of his bar in a historic building built in 1900, that he gave many of his concertinas girl's names. He was featured on Good Morning America as well as numerous other television programs. Movies were filmed on the premises and countless news articles were written about him, even in the most prominent national newspapers such as the New York Times.
Patrons who visited the bar and danced to the last minute up to closing time, remarked that entering the one of a kind bar, was like stepping back in time. Guests from all over the world signed his foreign visitor book. Art Altenburg's Bar was given the distinction and designated by the US Patent Office in Washington DC, with the official gold seal, as the "Only Concertina Bar in the U.S.A."
After selling the bar and returning to Mosinee, he still could not disassociate himself from his love of the concertina or making people happy and created an underground concertina bar at his home, where he continued his unique tradition of entertaining friends, giving them a place to enjoy the music and providing many good times for all.
He developed a fondness for going to the Pizza Ranch as his favorite restaurant and even at 91 years of age, made the near 40-mile round trip to enjoy the buffet almost daily. He was a faithful Christian, never missed mass or weekly confession.
He will be dearly missed especially by his first cousin Irv Fletcher and wife Betty, his special neighbors Tim and Amy Stroik, long-time close personal friend Bernice Szymanski, as well as many, many friends and acquaintances.
Survivors include a son James, his brother Richard who will miss him immensely, sister Twanette (Smith), Arizona, and several cousins.
Funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday, April 13, 2021, at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Knowlton. COVID restrictions with face masks and social distancing will be required. The Rev. James Trempe will officiate. Burial will be in St. Francis Cemetery, Knowlton. The family will receive friends from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, April 12, 2021, at Beste Funeral Home, Mosinee. The family will receive friends again from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at the funeral home. Beste Funeral Home, Mosinee, is assisting the family with arrangements. Online condolences may be made at www.bestefh.com.