Fredonia trustee, bar owner led colorful life

Fritz Buchholtz left legacy that includes public service as well as roles as music fest promoter and shopkeeper

Fritz Buchholtz
Ozaukee Press Staff

Former village trustee and owner of Mr. Fritz’s tavern, Frederic “Fritz” Buchholtz was a kind, warm-hearted and colorful addition to Fredonia when he moved there in 2005, friends and family said.

Buchholtz died in his sleep at his home in Milwaukee on Tuesday, Jan. 28, after suffering from complications due to diabetes for many years. He was 73.

Buchholtz, who was born in Bloomer in 1946, was a natural entrepreneur, his son Franz said.

In 1970, following the success of the Woodstock rock festival, Buchholtz helped stage his own outdoor concert, the Iola People’s Fair, a rock festival that featured Johnny Winter, Steve Miller, Chuck Berry, drummer Buddy Rich and sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar, among others.

“He saw that there was money to be made,” his son said. “He saw it strictly as a money-making venture.”

Buchholtz followed that up by opening one of Milwaukee’s first occult shops, Sanctum Regnum, where he met celebrities such as Vincent Price, and founded the Milwaukee Airgun Combat Club in 1980. 

Buchholtz was probably best known for many years, however, as the owner of Napoleon’s, a store in Shorewood specializing in military board games and figurines that was a mecca for gamers and collectors.

“He did very well there,” his son said.

When that store closed in the early 2000s, Buchholtz was looking for a new challenge and in 2005 found one, his son said.

“I’m not quite sure who turned him onto Fredonia, but he heard a bar was for sale,” he said.

Buchholtz wasn’t a complete stranger to operating a bar, having co-owned one in Shorewood, but there were a couple details he failed to consider, his son said.

“The night before Mr. Fritz’s opened, he realized he had never poured a drink,” he said. “He didn’t know how to mix drinks or what to charge. So the night before we were to open I was instructing him.

“That probably should have been thought out.” 

Buchholtz quickly made himself at home. He lived behind the tavern, located in downtown Fredonia west of the railroad tracks, and got to know the community.

Being a Navy veteran, he joined the Warren Kane American Legion Post 410.

And having been involved with Shorewood village government, he soon got involved in Fredonia politics.

Buchholtz was elected to the Village Board as a write-in candidate in April 2007, was re-elected in 2011 and again as a write-in candidate in 2013 and in 2015, Village Clerk Sandi Tretow said. 

He resigned from the board in September 2015.

“He was the chair of the Personnel Committee when Jo Ann Wagner retired and I was appointed clerk in September 2014,” Tretow said in an email. 

In January 2017, Buchholtz, who was losing his eyesight and had part of his foot amputated due to diabetes, sold the bar. 

“It was a tough working life for him,” his son said. 

Today the bar is Barb’s Pub and Grub.

“He was smart, quick-witted and a very kind-hearted person,” Tretow said. “We kept in touch after he sold Mr. Fritz’s and moved to Milwaukee.”

“He liked the Village Board,” his son said. “In general, he liked Fredonia very much. He made sure he was part of the community.”

Village Trustee Jill Bertram also kept in touch with Buchholtz, talking to him as recently as last month. The two planned to meet up in the next few weeks, she said.  

“We were kind of buddies on the board,” she said. Bertram, a hairstylist, often cut Buchholtz’s hair. “We kind of struck up a friendship. We disagreed quite often, but we were always friends.”

Bertram agreed that Buchholtz was a kind man, “but you didn’t want to cross him either. I think he kicked a few people out of his bar.

“He was an all-around interesting man. I enjoyed his friendship. A lot of people did,” she said.

Franz agreed. “I’m very proud of him and what he accomplished. He really affected everybody he touched,” he said.

Buchholtz is survived by his sons, Franz (Catherine Jozwik), Jason (Suzanne Mutch-Buchholtz) and Zachary; daughters Autumn Rogne and Paula Ryan; and brother Bill (Carol).

A visitation and memorial service were to be held at the Feerick Funeral Home, 2025 E. Capitol Drive, Shorewood, from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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