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Elmer "Al" Adolf Buss

Published On: Mar 19 2013 05:27:58 AM CDT

MADISON- Elmer “Al” Adolf Buss was born on Sept. 10, 1937, in Winnipeg, Manitoba to Adolf and Rose (Edinger) Buss and died, surrounded by his family, on Sunday, March 17, 2013, in Madison.

He is survived by his life partner, Sharon Kopenski; his children Alan (Laura), Scott (Dawn), Carolyn (John) Barndt, and Elizabeth (Dave) Nameth; grandchildren April, Benjamin, Jessica, Eric, Jennifer, Evan, Bryana, Jaimy, Rebecca, Sabrina, Beatrix, Rosabelle, Eliza and Lillian; sisters, Lenore (Tom) Filiatrault and Janet Buss; two great-grandchildren; and Sharon’s children Marlisa (Tim) Condon, Marni (Mike) Hebert and Chad (Ruby) Kopenski. Al was preceded in death by his parents, brother Ronald and grandson Adam.

Al immigrated to the United States with his family when he was 18 years old. They settled in Milwaukee where Al worked as a mechanic. In 1960, he married Ann Everett with whom he had four children. In 1973, Al was in a diving accident and became a quadriplegic, one of three significant events of his life. The second was sobriety, which Al achieved in 1979. Sobriety enabled him to live independently, earn his high school and college degrees and have a long and meaningful career with the State of Wisconsin Department of Physical Disabilities specializing in alcohol and drug treatment.

Much of Al’s life was spent making sure people with disabilities have access to alcohol and drug treatment. He helped co-found the National Association of Alcohol, Drugs and Disability (NAADD) and the Wisconsin Association of Drugs and Disability. Al was also a national speaker and advocate. He was active on the board of Access to Independence and recently recognized for his years of dedicated service.

The third most significant event of Al’s life happened in 1986, when he met Sharon, his partner for 26 years. She was the love of his life. Their relationship was equal parts love and good-natured ribbing. The good care they took of each other was really touching. They built a specially-designed home for themselves in Oregon where Al could be independent and there was room to host all of their children and grandchildren. They enjoyed camping, long trips with Al at the wheel and lots of laughs around the big dining room table. “Papa Al, the Kiddies’ Pal” really loved little babies.

Of all Al’s wonderful qualities, his eternal optimism was the most inspiring. Despite being in a wheelchair for 40 years, until just a few days before he died he continued to say what he always said, “I have a great life.”

A Celebration of Al’s Life will be held at GUNDERSON FITCHBURG FUNERALHOME, 2950 Chapel Valley Road, Fitchburg, at 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 21, 2013. Visitation will be held at the funeral home from 3 p.m. until the time of service Thursday.

A special thank you to Al’s home health aides, Michele Hendrickson, Theresa Schnabel and Marilyn Schultz, who cared so well for him, ensured his quality of life and allowed him to live at home.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that Al’s life be remembered through donations to Access to Independence, 3810 Milwaukee Street, Madison WI, 53714.

Memorials:
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that Al’s life be remembered through donations to Access to Independence, 3810 Milwaukee Street, Madison WI, 53714.

Visitation:
Visitation will be held at the funeral home from 3 p.m. until the time of service Thursday.

Service:
A Celebration of Al’s Life will be held at GUNDERSON FITCHBURG FUNERALHOME, 2950 Chapel Valley Road, Fitchburg, at 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 21, 2013.

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