Burt Britzmann, a resident of Moscow since 1961, died in his home at the age of 81 March 18, 2012, of natural causes. Burt was born to Herbert and Dorothy Britzmann on Aug. 8, 1930, in Canton, S.D. He was raised in Hawarden, Iowa, where his father was superintendent of schools. Burt graduated from Hawarden High School in the class of 1949, with letters in football, basketball and track. He also excelled in his academic pursuits including honor roll, president of student council and team member of Hawarden High School Debate Club, which won the Class B state championship for a record number of years unequaled for schools in Iowa at that time. The University of Iowa recruited Burt for his excellence as a football player despite his senior season being cut short by a polio epidemic in the area. He received the Nile Kinnick Scholarship Award, presented to the top student athlete in football who scored the highest on an exam taken with other scholarship recipients.
His father's words to him in a letter written in 1949 as he embarked onto his college career resonated for him throughout his life. "You have both the physical and mental equipment to come through, it's the desire and dogged determination plus the willingness to work hard, very hard, that will determine the degree of your final achievement. You can do it and I believe you will." These words from father to son set Burt on the path that he walked until his last days. At the age of 20, Burt's destiny as a healer was foreshadowed by his rescue of a drowning man who fell into the Sioux River. Burt, a trained lifeguard and member of the Iowa football team, jumped into the Sioux River and pulled him to shore, saving his life. As a pre-med student and a member of the football team, Burt continued to perform at a high academic level and therefore continued to receive the Kinnick Scholarship for each of his four undergraduate years, a record that has not been equaled to this day. In his senior year he was awarded the Big Ten Medal of Honor presented to the top male student athlete at U of I.
Burt received his medical school training at the University of Iowa Medical School from 1953-57. Then he trained in general family practice in an internship in Ogden, Utah, where he had his first taste of snow skiing. He served in the U.S. Army as a captain in the medical corps in Stuttgart, Germany, for three years. Upon completion of his military service he moved to Moscow.
Burt married Joan Leone Smith March 12, 1952, and together they had six children: Dianne Thompson (John), Brad, Doak, Mitch, (Jean Munch), Margo, and Dan (Katy). He is also survived by his grandchildren: Leslie, Steven, Elisabeth, Sophie, Sam, Bradie, Monterey and Keyel; and step-grandchildren: John and Katie. He was preceded in death by both of his parents and his sister, Roxy.
He and Joan moved to Moscow in 1961 with the desire to enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. He practiced family medicine at the Moscow Clinic until his retirement in 2000. In his more than 50 years in Moscow, he has served in many facets in the community as a staff and committee member at Gritman Memorial Hospital, Latah County Coroner, University of Idaho Vandal booster president and Ducks Unlimited president.
Burt's great passion for the outdoors, his family, his friends and his patients (who were often his friends) were the measure of his legacy. He loved to hunt and fish and spend time on Lake Coeur d'Alene at the Britzmann family cabin on Hidden Lake. Burt was an avid skier, fisherman, marksman and golfer and enjoyed teaching his children the finer points of the sporting life. He especially loved to hunt with and train his beloved dogs. Burt was famous for his fantastic sense of humor and his common man's bedside manner. He was a "man's" man surrounding a kind heart. He was truly one-of-a-kind. People who knew him felt privileged to call him a friend.
Just days before his death, while visiting her grandfather, Burt's granddaughter complained of a stomach ache. Dr. Britzmann's instincts took over and within minutes he sent his granddaughter to the emergency room, accurately diagnosed with appendicitis. His father's words echoed through time, confirming that his son's life made a difference right up to the end.
A celebration of life gathering will be conducted at 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 6, at the University Inn Best Western in Moscow. Memorial donations suggested to Ducks Unlimited or the Humane Society. Thank you to many friends who made Burt's life full of meaning and joy.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Short's Funeral Chapel of Moscow and online condolences can be sent to www.shortsfuneral