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FAUTSCH, Louis Sr.

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Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

FAUTSCH, Louis Sr. (Dubuque, IA, June 16, 1908--Dubuque, IA, Mar. 12, 1989). In 1937 Fautsch, then twenty-nine years old, became the youngest judge of a court of record in Iowa. Past secretary and president of the Dubuque County Bar Association, he served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Iowa Bar Association for ten years.

A police judge for the City of Dubuque, Fautsch in 1944 founded the first Dubuque chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous in Dubuque. The original six members held their meetings in his office. His own experience had been to attend weekly meetings by driving to Des Moines. He later established the Fautsch Alcoholism Treatment Center at Mercy Hospital. (1) A member and past chairman under seven Iowa governors of the Iowa Governor's Commission on Alcoholism (1961-1976), he served as a member of the State Alcohol Commission from its start in 1961 until 1976. By his own estimates, he spent one-third of his life counseling alcoholics and distributing information about what he called an "insidious disease." In this role, he helped begin alcoholism treatment centers in the Dakotas, Illinois, Minnesota, and Nebraska. The anonymous self-help group, he claimed, was the first in the city to treat alcoholism as a disease instead of something that could be cured by "just willpower." (2)

A popular speaker, Fautsch as the master of ceremonies, often held programs together with witticisms. In describing his role, he compared himself to a cross-eyed discus thrower at a track meet who "never makes any records but keeps the crowds alert." (3) Dubuque County personnel director Jeanette Ruth "Jan" HESS remarked that "He continued to find something in everybody that came to AA meetings. He made them feel good about themselves." (4)

In Dubuque, Fautsch served three terms on the Civil Service Commission including service as its chairman. Among his other civic contributions, Fautsch was a director of the Mercy School of Nursing, director and president of the DUBUQUE GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB, member of the Mercy Health Center Board of Directors, president of the Loras Alumni Association, and fifty-year member of the ELKS CLUB. (5)

For his many contributions to Dubuque, Fautsch was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from LORAS COLLEGE in 1969 and the FIRST CITIZEN AWARD from the TELEGRAPH HERALD in 1979. He was awarded the doctor of humanities award from LORAS COLLEGE in 1981 and Dr. Kirk Strong Award from the Iowa Commission on Substance Abuse in 1985. (6) Fautsch also received the Outstanding Service Award from the National Association for Mental Health and the Dr. Sedlacek Award from University of Iowa Alcoholism Treatment Center. (7)



1. Stanley, Mary, "Louis Fautsch, Inspiration to Recovering Alcoholics, Dies at 80," Telegraph Herald, March 13, 1989, p. 2

2. Hammill, Roxie, "Louis Fautsch: The Anonymous Helper," Telegraph Herald, December 31, 1979, p. 15

3. Hansen, Christine, "Standing Ovations for Candidate Frommelt," Telegraph Herald, August 18, 1968, p. 4

4. Stanley

5. Obituary, Telegraph Herald, March 13, 1989, p. 9

6. Ibid.

7. Hammill