Hauer, Wolfgang Ann Arbor, MI

Our beloved friend, adopted grandfather, kindred soul, and resident gnome, Wolfgang Hauer, passed away peacefully at Arbor Hospice on Saturday, October 9, 2010. Wolfgang was 90 years old. Born of Jewish descent on December 5, 1919 in Berlin, Germany, Wolfgang and his parents escaped Nazi Germany in 1940, coming to the United States where his father, an engineer, found work at General Motors in Detroit. Wolfgang, who never married, worked as a commercial artist, and lived with his parents until first his father, and then, in 1977, his mother passed away. While together in Detroit, they would often take day trips to Ann Arbor. Wolfgang grew to appreciate the town's integration of culture, nature and learning. In 1978, Wolfgang decided to make Ann Arbor his home. He moved first to Forest Plaza Apartments, and then, starting in the mid 1980's, to Parkway Meadows. To those of us who had the great good fortune of knowing this small, bearded, often disheveled appearing man with the large hearing aids, he was beyond a blessing in our lives. He was the quintessential "diamond in the rough", a man of untold mystical wisdom, a walking encyclopedia of botany and natural spaces, a profound and talented artist who created many oil paintings and pen and ink drawings (the majority of which he gave away), a philosopher king who dabbled in religions and theo-logies, both east and west, and a political spokesperson who, despite his gnome-like size and demeanor, was never shy about sharing his point of view, particularly when it came to cruelty to animals, the abuse of our natural resources, the over-stimul-ation of technology, or even, as he did, attempting to save seven landmark trees in the parking lot of the Traver Village Mall (he saved just one…see the one tree left standing!) He was a staple at Project Grow's Wise Roots Senior Garden, at the People's Food Coop where he shopped, with the Michigan Botanical Club where he became an honorary member after years of pen and ink drawings for their newsletters, and at the Traverwood Branch of the public library where he read for hours and hours and was known and loved by all the librarians. Having no living relatives, a core group of us became his adoptive family and primary care givers as Wolfgang grew older. For us, his sphere of influence, born of unconditional love and deep appreciation, drew us in as naturally as the planets are drawn to the sun. We all received far more than we gave. It was more than a privilege being there for Wolfgang until his dying breath. It was, in so many ways, one of those rare transcendent experiences that come around maybe once in a lifetime…and for this; we are eternally grateful and indebted to this amazing man. We will miss him. A special celebration of his life is being planned for Saturday, November 6, at 2 p.m., at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens 1800 N. Dixboro Road in Ann Arbor. As he often referred to himself as a "shameless sucredent" (sweet tooth), please bring a sweet thing to pass, and share some chamomile tea. Donations on his behalf may be made to Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum or the Michigan Humane Society.