We all have those people in our lives.
The ones who surprise us with their caring, their spunk.
The ones who change lives through their generosity and vision.
E. Arthur Prieve, aka Al, was one of those people.
Al (on the right) founded the Bolz Center for Arts Administration at the UW Madison, where I got my business degree, and where I found a career and community I can’t imagine my life without. By the time I got to the Bolz Center, he’d handed the reins to a new director, and so I had the marvelous Andrew Taylor (on the left), aka the Artful Manager, as my friend and mentor in grad school. I never experienced Al’s teaching or direct counsel.
But Al…Al knew me. The first time I met him and introduced myself, he knew me. He knew where I’d come from and that I was a theater geek. I hadn’t met him, had never spoken to him. But I was one of the students in his program, and so he knew about me. After I graduated and came back to Madison for the first time, he reached out and grabbed my hand as I passed and said “Arkansas?” I blinked, smiled and nodded; of course Al knew what I was up to, even years out of the program. He always knew. He always cared.
That was Al.
Al left us last night after a long, hard journey through declining health. Despite that, he came to every Bolz Center alumni event he could, and each time I saw him, I wondered if it would be the last time.
Turns out, this past February was indeed that final time.
Though I’m not a religious person by trade, I believe that good people go to good places when they leave us. So I’m not really sad for Al; he earned his good place and I hope he’s enjoying himself. The rest of his tribe, the ones who who knew him either peripherally or personally, will miss him dearly, and I am sad for them. For us.
But what a legacy. The field of arts administration in America is part of it. But more importantly, I’m sure there are hundreds of stories like mine, of people who Al remembered, cared about, and looked after, who are thinking of his friends and family and wishing them comfort and peace.
Today, I went to a community service project with other alumni from UW Madison. And to my great surprise, I met up with another Bolzie, whom I didn’t even know lived in Boston. Our community is small, but it is mighty, and it is deep. I owe this current job to a Bolzie. I owe my previous job to someone I met through the Bolz Center.
In truth, I owe it all to Al, and I’m grateful. Thank you sir, and rest in peace. I’m glad to have known you.