In the basement of the Stoughton Opera House, a picture of the man who helped lead the restoration of the iconic building can now be found hanging on the wall.
On Thursday, Aug. 29, Doug Pfundheller’s family members, including his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, watched as Mayor Tim Swadley read the late Pfundheller’s biography and inducted him into the Stoughton Hall of Fame.
“The first day he became mayor he went up to see (the opera house) and was appalled by the condition — there were broken windows and bats,” Pfundheller’s daughter Marjie Hanssen said.
From that point on he was determined to give life back to the building, she said.
Shortly after his term started in 1982, Pfundheller appointed the first Stoughton Clock Tower and Opera House Restoration Committee, which led to its restoration rather than the demolition, according to Pfundheller’s biography written by the family. That restoration helped spark the downtown arts district the city has today, Hanssen said.
“The opera house was very dear to him,” she said. “And he was proud to bring that back.”
Although the opera house was one of Pfundheller proudest accomplishments, Hanssen said, through his 83 years in the city he had many more, including being a state champion pole vaulter, longtime member of the Village Players Theater and an active member in the Stoughton Library Board, Friends of Lake Kegonsa and Skallen Home Board of Directors.
One community member is inducted into the Stoughton Hall of Fame every year. They are chosen by a committee, based on their lasting impact to city of Stoughton. Former honorees include Luke Stoughton, Ethel Kvalheim, Ed Bryant and Helen Johnson.
In his free time, Pfundheller would build things in the basement of his home, including a Starduster Too and Pitts Special, both aerobatic biplanes. And as a family man, Hanssen said, there are too many favorite memories to pinpoint.
“He was just a wonderful father,” Hanssen said. “He took great delight in everyone and everything.”
Several weeks after celebrating his 90th birthday, Pfundheller passed away in April 2019. Hanssen said the city should remember his devotion.
“He just loved Stoughton,” she said. “That love of Stoughton carried through in everything he did. He served, he worked hard and he loved the people.”