Wyczawski is Service to Mankind recipient

NEW ULM – The 2013 recipient of the New Ulm Sertoma Club Service to Mankind Award said his mother drilled him on reading and spelling when he was in grade school more than 70 years ago.

Carl “Red” Wyczawski won the Clark County, Wis. spelling bee but was unable to go to Madison, Wis. for the state contest due to fuel shortage during World War II.

“I was a stickler for spelling. I thought it was very, very important,” Wyczawski said. “Even when I find spelling errors now, I’ll call people up. New people come to town and have no idea how to spell some of these German names.”

Nominated for the award by Herb Schaper of New Ulm, the honor is one of many for the Wisconsin native whose biography was detailed last summer when he was inducted into the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame.

Deferred from World War II service in 1946 because his four brothers were serving, he became the first Korean War draftee from Wisconsin in September 1950. Initially assigned to the 361st Engineer Battalion at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. He later transferred to post headquarters as a media specialist, editing and writing sports for the post newspaper.

Discharged from the Army in 1953, Wyczawski worked for the Sporting News in St. Louis, before becoming the Milwaukee Braves Assistant Public Relations Director. As public address announcer, he worked the 1955 Major League All-Star Game in Milwaukee.

A year later, Red and his family moved to New Ulm when he went into partnership with his father-in-law, Ben Green, at Green Clothiers. The next year, he was chairman of New Ulm’s Polka Day and the world’s largest street dance. He was named the New Ulm Junior Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Young Man.

In 1961, Wyczawski was offered a job a new major league baseball expansion team, the California Angels, but turned it down. He had too much to do here.

A few years later, he helped the Minnesota Twins set up non-metro ticket outlets, was elected to the city council and continued to be Polka Day Chairman. Elected mayor in 1970, Wyczawski served six terms covering 24 years.

His tenure as mayor coincided with the Bill Gafford era, an often tumultuous time during which Gafford served as New Ulm City Council President.

Wyczawski is especially remembered for battling Gafford on the location of the New Ulm Fire Hall. Gafford wanted it built on undeveloped city parkland at 3rd South and German streets. Fire Department members wanted it elsewhere, and Wyczawski made a rare use of his veto power to quash funding for the fire hall, until it was agreed to build at its current location, 8th North and Broadway.

Wyczawski was involved in the dedication of Schonlau Park and the building of the Glockenspiel, one of New Ulm’s many tourist attractions. He also saw much development of recreational facilities, including the New Ulm Recreation Center and Vogel Arena (now Vogel Fieldhouse).

Elected Minnesota League of Cities President in 1976, he served five years on the board of directors. He was chairman and Minnesota state representative of the Sisters Cities Commission, Minnesota Good Roads Commission State Chairman and was chairman of the University of Minnesota Williams Golf Tournament in its first year in New Ulm. He chaired the 1958 Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Tournament that drew a record 26,094 fans to New Ulm.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

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