Sunday, January 18, 2009

A last good bye to Joe Bittner

Today the DCS Shooters paid tribute to their buddy, Joe Bittner. It was held at the Boxhorn Gunclub where Joe spent a lot of time shooting trap with his DCS Shooters teammates. We want to thank Rick & Debbie Schim for offering to let us hold this at their gunclub. But especially Debbie for making this a very special day for all of us.

As reported on this website, Joe passed away on December 22, just 2 days before his mother's 80th birthday. He had just returned from a trip to Peru and came home to Wisconsin with a pile of snow waiting for him. He started up his snowblower, but never finished. Neighbors saw him in his front yard and it was already too late. Joe passed away at the young age of 56. The irony was that his father had passed away at the very same age.

The DCS Shooters: Uwe Brunn, Hans Buchert, Pete Aschenbrenner, Elmar Kretschmann, Stefan Brunn and Roland Schneiker along with their family members and friends gathered at Boxhorn Gunclub to celebrate the life of Joe Bittner.

Joe's mother, Mary Bittner, and his brother, Frank, joined the group for this celebration. Mary brought a big basket of "kipfel" along for all to enjoy. Joe was not a fancy guy, so this wasn't a fancy party, but we think it was the way Joe would have liked it. A couple pizzas and a lot of beer, but most of all there was a lot of laughter and fun remembering Joe.

Below is a short story that Mary Buchert told about Joe when he was best man at their wedding. Joe remained a big part of the Buchert family and kept his close ties to them throughout the years. Just click on the video to watch Mary tell this story. There were other amusing stories, but I wasn't able to catch them all on tape. To say the least, Joe was a very colorful guy and you just could not help smiling when you were around him.

Tim Kretschmann delivered and wrote the Eulogy. He has many fond memories of Joe and brings to light the great love Joe had in his beloved hobby, trap shooting. You can click on the video below, but if you have some trouble with the audio, a copy of the Eulogy is printed below.

I've been asked today to say a few words about our friend, Joe Bittner. It's hard, though, to sum up a life in a “few words” and though no one would accuse Joe of being a chatty-Cathy, Joe could talk about his favorite subject at length, so why would we want to give him short shrift? Hans tells me that on occasion the bar would be closed and still the discussion continued in the parking lot. If you really had some time on your hands, mention the Schwabenhof to him and wait out the storm.

Fact be told, anytime Joe entered a room, you would know it. He filled a room and you would hear him from any corner of the room. I don't think he would ever whisper. He spoke from deep within him and nothing was all came out...unfiltered and true.

Joe traveled a lot for his job at Falk. But Joe was not some distinguished James Bond socialite type floating around the world. (Let's face it: Joe had a boob hat that said “Let's see a pair” and one hat that said “Pull. Bang. Shit.”) No, Joe wasn't one of those refined travelers that looked his nose down at everything other than his homeland, nor was a snob with his smattering of tastes around the world. Joe was a generous traveler. He would share his knowledge for his job and quite often, he shared his love of his sport, shooting trap, with the people he would meet. I know that he would often find gun clubs while abroad to continue his love affair with those orange clay birds he was so fond of shattering.

Joe has visited the Artic Circle, Czech Republic, Columbia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Mexico, Bali up on the volcano, and Peru. While in the army, he was stationed in Japan and actually spoke a little Japanese with an entertainer at German Fest a few years back. But his most famous voyage, the voyage of which no one would ever forget, happened in the small hamlet of Ulm in Germany. The voyage included a very special bus that was in constant need of...well, let's call it fuel. Joe was always up to the task to help out.

For me, I can hardly even picture Joe without a cigarette in his hand (until he had to put a beer in that hand) or out shooting trap. I don't think any of us had any idea when we went out to the old Junker farm to shoot trap those times with Donauschwaben Jaeger Verein how much trap would come to be a part of Joe's and by extension all of our lives.

Some people don't know about the softer side of Joe. He was well known as the beer-drinking gun aficionado, but his philanthropic side goes unremembered.

Joe started by donating for diabetes at the Boxhorn's shoot. He changed those donations to breast cancer. He became involved in breast cancer due to his friend's daughter Katie Buchert's battle with this dreaded disease. The first year Katie had the disease, Joe came over at Christmas with a penguin from Happy Feet with a card inscribed “To the person with the Happiest Feet I know.”

Joe Bittner was also an organ donor. His bones and skin were used to help over 60 people. Even in death, Joe's generosity lived on and he helped so many.

Joe was one of the founders of the Damn Crappy Shooters that shot here at Boxhorn's as often as he could. Joe was probably the namer of the group; but that is the stuff of legend. If he was in the state of Wisconsin, he was out with the Krieghoff to show us all what he could do. He would take vacation for the state and national shoot each year—it was the only type of vacation he wouldn't let be pre-empted.

Now, we all know I can't shoot trap to save my life, but this has made me a fairly attentive fan of those that can. I have noticed with most people that take up trap there are two phases in trap shooting. You start by being excited every time you hit one. As your skills grow, though, you enter a new phase and in this phase, you grow disappointed with each one you miss. The goal, of course, at that phase is not to miss. Joe would be frustrated with each miss, no doubt, and some of the language he would use when missing would make the next bird think twice about crossing him.

My point is, Joe would take great pride in helping his friends go from the thrill of each hit to the disappointment of each miss. Now, we all find ourselves with a great disappointment—as we all miss Joe Bittner. His open mouth smile. His full body laugh. And his huge heart. We'll miss that most of all.

The video above is when 12 shooters, including Joe's brother, Frank, the DCS shooters, and friends of Joe. They each shot 3 rounds as a tribute to their friend, Joe Bittner.

Good bye Joe. You will be missed.

1 comment:

Katie said...

Joe is looking down from the heavens where I'm sure he has already organized a trap shooting league. I'm know, his scores will only improve. He has devine intervention. We will truly miss Joe's huggs and laughs. From across any bar, Joe would yell,"Ach, da ist die Frau Schneiker!" We love & miss you Joe!