Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Lee R. Baxandall (January 26, 1935 - November 28, 2008)

Lee R. BaxandallLee R. Baxandall 
(January 26, 1935 - November 28, 2008)

Lee R. Baxandall died in Oshkosh, on November 28th.  Like his uncle, Clyde Lee, an aviator who attempted one of the earliest non-stop transatlantic flights, Lee Baxandall pushed the boundaries and tackled the impossible.   Lee’s uncle found his nemesis in the Irish Sea.  Lee Baxandall found his, alas, in Parkinson’s disease.

Born January 26, 1935, in Oshkosh, Lee was the first child of Raymond W. Baxandall, a prominent local businessman, and his wife Neita Evelyn (neeLee) Baxandall.  Lee’s adventurous spirit first manifested itself in an interest in scouting.  Having achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, a highlight of his young life was his selection, in 1951, to join a 12-member delegation of scouts from across the United States invited to the White House to meet President Harry S. Truman. This formative experience piqued a lifelong interest in travel, which took Lee (and family) to almost every corner of the globe over the next five decades.

After graduating from Oshkosh High School, Lee matriculated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1953, earning his baccalaureate in 1957 and a master’s degree just one year later.  Further graduate study followed.  Lee’s interests in literature and political activism were kindled during these years inMadison, where he began contributing articles, reviews and social commentary to academic periodicals and local publications.  After moving to New York City, where he lived throughout the 1960s, he soon established himself within the progressive community as a playwright, essayist, reviewer and frequent contributor to periodicals such as The Drama Review, Partisan Review, The Village Voice, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, and Science and Society. 

Upon the death of his father in 1970, Lee returned to Oshkosh to take over The Baxandall Company, an educational publishing business – and also pursue his burgeoning interest in Naturism.   In the early 1970s, Lee founded the Naturist Society in downtown Oshkosh, and there began publishing the seminal periodical of the growing Naturist movement, Clothed with the Sun (later Nude and Natural and N Magazine), and the World Guide to Nude Beaches.

Lee was also an ardent and knowledgeable collector of art.  Perhaps his most important contribution in this realm was his recovery and promotion of the long-ignored works of Robert Koehler, a 19th Century German-American artist who’s most significant painting, “The Strike,” depicts a unique moment in the history of the labor movement in Wisconsin.  This masterpiece now hangs in theZeughaus Museum in BerlinGermany.

In addition to his prolific writings on naturism, and his plays, essays, poems, commentaries and works of aesthetic criticism, Lee was a noted translator of the German playwright Bertolt Brecht.  Lee’s many books include Radical Perspectives in the ArtsMarxism and Aesthetics, and (with Stefan Morawski)Marx & Engels on Literature and Art.

Lee is survived by his wife, Johanna Moore Baxandall of Oshkosh; his son, Phineas Baxandall (from a previous marriage to Rosalyn Fraad Baxandall) and grandchildren, Julian and Nell Baxandall, of CambridgeMassachusetts; his sister, Ann Krooth (Richard), and nephew, Karl Krooth, of California; and his stepdaughter, Melanie Moore Steen (John Steen) of Omro.  Many friends and colleagues also mourn his passing.  Thanks to the staff at Evergreen, to Dr. K.N. Ringwala, and especially to longtime caregiver Connie, for their kindness and devotion to Lee these last several years.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, December 6, 2008 at 2:00 p.m. at the Seefeld Funeral and Cremation Services, 1025 Oregon Street,OshkoshWI54902.  Visitation will be held from 1:00 p.m. until the time of the service and a reception will follow. 

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.  Please visit to send online condolences to the family.

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