MADISON – Herman G. Brandenburg, age 92, passed away at Agrace Hospice on Saturday, April 3, 2021. He was born to Mabel and Otto Brandenburg in Castle Rock, Wisconsin. He graduated from Muscoda High School at the age of 16 and worked on the family farm. One day he was doing light carpentry work at the farm when a man came to demonstrate a small skill saw and power drill - from then on he was hooked. He started doing repair work on local farms including rebuilding a barn on his family farm with the help and support of the neighbors. It was challenging work, but that’s what he really enjoyed.
After his father died, Herman took care of his mother and the farm until they moved to Madison where he began a 40+ year career as a home builder. While attending Bethel Lutheran Church, he met his future wife Louise at a singles bible group. Herman adored Louise and they had so much joy for each other. He was an only child, but she was part of a large family and he was embraced by them immediately. In 1960, he built a permanent home for his family, including a separate apartment space for his mother, who they cared for in the home until her death. He and Louise both lived in the home for the rest of their lives.
Herman and Louise were blessed with three children; Kathleen, Kristine Johnson (Don), and Mark (Sue), along with three grandchildren; Nina, Nathan, and Nicholas. He cherished his grandchildren who called him “Ironman” due to his vice-like grip, strong will, and clever sense of humor. He treated his son-in-law and daughter-in-law like they were his own children.
One of his favorite quotes was “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” - Mother Teresa. His commitment to service and passion for construction extended throughout all of Herman’s life work and was not a small thing to those who benefited from his skills and friendship. The lifelong service and endless energy that he gave to others came back to him in immeasurable ways.
Herman was a quiet Christian who witnessed through action. His deep involvement in his church included Sunday School teacher, Confirmation Leader, Board Member, Stephen Minister, Building Committee Member, along with a number of other volunteer positions. He played a part in either the construction or renovation of every part of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church on Raymond Rd and even though we knew he was proud of his part, he never boasted about any of his efforts.
As a missionary and volunteer with Lutheran Missions, Good Shepherd Church, and Habitat for Humanity, he made lifelong friends everywhere he traveled. While he enjoyed sharing his construction skills and knowledge with others, his real skill was the ability to form long lasting relationships with friends he had known for just a short period of time.
His love for construction, strong work ethic, and focus on details shaped his reputation as one of Madison’s best home builders. He showcased his work for several years in the Parade of Homes and earned the respect of his peers. He served as the President of the Madison Builders Association as well as the Wisconsin Builders Association in the early 1970s. He wasn’t afraid to take risks and became a pioneer constructing one of the first condominium projects in Middleton. In fact, you can find hundreds of projects Herman was in charge of or participated in throughout Southwest Madison, Middleton, Monona, Maple Bluff, McFarland, along with international sites in Madagascar, Zambia, and Jamaica. Over the years, Herman was honored by many of the organizations which he has volunteered including a nomination by Habitat staff members for the MetLife Award which he was awarded at a ceremony in Washington DC. Due to his years of service for the Orchard Ridge Neighborhood Association, he was asked to serve as the Grand Marshall of the 4th of July parade in 2019 and rode with his grandsons in the lead vehicle. In addition, the City of Madison honored him and the other longtime members of the Wednesday Volunteer Work crew by naming streets after each of them. Appropriately named “Brandenburg Way”, the road will be cherished by the family as another part of his legacy.
Herman and Louise traveled extensively throughout their lives together. Family trips had special meaning, but his fondest memories were trips to visit friends and family throughout the United States, as well as, the United Kingdom, Zambia, and Madagascar.
Herman’s friends have shared so many wonderful thoughts and memories about his influence on their lives. What they may not realize is how deeply important their friendship was to him. After his wife Louise passed away, he decided to write a memoir where he shared many stories and memories about his life, his friends, his travels, and how blessed he was to have gone to know so many incredible people and have such wonderful experiences. He often said, “Isn’t that something?!” which could be said about all the accomplishments in his life.
Herman loved elegant music and took to listening to it nearly all day everyday for the last several months (unless the Packers were playing, of course). He was a good singer, but recognized it more in others. When sharing stories about people he knew throughout his life, he always mentioned when they were talented singers or musicians because he had a true appreciation for their talents. He really enjoyed listening to his children play the piano and sing in various choirs and beamed with pride as he watched his grandchildren perform in musicals, choirs, and band concerts.
At the end of his life Herman was blessed with 24-hour loving care by his children along with a personal aide, Annette, and the wonderful staff of Agrace (Hospice) Home Care, for whom the family is incredibly grateful. The visits and phone calls he received from friends and family were so impactful and more appreciated than anyone may have realized. Herman loved life and fought for it until his very last breath.
Funeral services will be held at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church on Friday, June 18, 2021 at 11am with a Celebration of Life reception at 5302 Whitcomb Dr, Madison from 1-5pm.
Memorials may be given to Agrace, Wisconsin Medical Project, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, or Habitat for Humanity.