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James H. Furstenberg

Published On: Feb 21 2014 11:58:25 PM CST

James Henry Furstenberg passed away on February 19, 2014 after a long battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He was born on September 12, 1936 in Marshfield Wisconsin, the fifth child of Edward and Christina Furstenberg.

He majored in art education at the University of Wisconsin - Madison (B. S. '58). He received an M. S. in Art Education ('63) and a Ph. D. in Adult Education ('69), both from UW-Madison. During this period he also taught art at Madison East High School and Nakoma and Dudgeon Elementary Schools. He married Barbara Gordon on September 3, 1961 in Madison.

For 27 rewarding years Jim had the enviable position of sharing the riches of the Honolulu Academy of Arts, Hawai`i's art museum, with the community. His job, unique in art museum circles, was to help Hawai`i's people make art a part of their lives.

He developed festivals, slide shows, and concerts in collaboration with the Associated Chinese University Women, Hawaii United Okinawa Association, the Filipino Association of University Women, LINKS, and many others. These projects promoted the love of and appreciation for the rich cultures of the ancestral homelands of the people of Hawai`i.

When a theatre facility was added, he built an active schedule of foreign, independent and experimental film and video, showing over 200 titles a year. Fifty concerts annually featured contemporary, early, vocal, and chamber music, bringing prominent and emerging performers from around the world.

After retirement in 1998, Jim and Barbara returned to Madison, where he pursued many personal interests he had put aside for his work. He maintained six flower beds and cultivated a large vegetable garden. He built beautiful cherrywood cabinets for the historic house he and Barbara shared.

Opera was a big passion. The couple traveled extensively to experience the arts in situ and developed a special affection for the handicrafts, fibre arts, food, and cultures of India. Visiting family was always a joy. Throughout his illness, Jim experienced personal growth via the integrative medicine practices of qi gong, meditation, acupuncture, massage, and yoga.

Jim is survived by his wife Barbara; his beloved godson and great-nephew Evan Breidel; brother-in-law Dr. Frederic (Janet) Gordon; sister-in-law Marcia Goerbe; nephews Charles (Beverly) Patterson, Ronald Patterson, Michael (Donna) Valiga, Richard (Linda) Valiga; Robert (Laurie) Valiga; Jim (Dorothy) Valiga, Richard (Sue) Pohlod, and Brady (Katie) Gordon; nieces Kathleen (Michael) McCaffery, Beth (Eric) Breidel, and Kate Gordon; great-nephews and great-nieces Bill (Maria) Patterson, Maria (Jeff) Sorce, Dan (Shannon) Valiga, Jeff (Sarah) Valiga, Tracy (Nick) LeGuillou, Sarah Pohlod, Nick Pohlod, Jason (Diana) Valiga, Grace Breidel; and eleven great-great-nephews and nieces (Emily, Michael, Alyssa, Isabella, Natalie, Kaylie, Lydia, Julia, Darren, Dominic, and Noah).

Jim was preceded in death by his parents; sisters Emily (Perce) Patterson, Ruth (John) Pohlod, and Betty (John) Valiga; brother Edward, and brother-in-law Tibor Goerbe.

A celebration of life will be held at the First Unitarian Society Meeting House, 900 University Bay Drive, Madison, WI on Saturday, March 15, 2014 at 12:00 noon.

The family expresses gratitude to the caring staffs at the Carbone Cancer Center and Oak Park Place. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the University of Wisconsin Foundation Opera Program Fund, 1848 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53726-4090 or the UW Carbone Cancer Center, 600 Highland Avenue, K4/646, Madison, WI 53792-6164.

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