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Master Craftsman Whose Metal and Woodworking Equipment Donated to LCOOU is Remembered

By Danielle R. Krol

Stepdaughter of Oscar Mattle

On July 25, 2022, the Cable, WI community lost a dear friend and a legendary figure, Oscar Mattle. He was 91 years old. The night before he passed away, over a Sunday night dinner, Mattle expressed to his stepdaughter Danielle Krol, “How did I get so lucky to live on Lake Owen? This is my paradise.” This was a question and sentiment that Oscar expressed throughout the 30 years that he was married to Danielle’s mother, Genevieve Krol-Mattle, who died in 2016.

Oscar was grateful that he successfully immigrated to the United States from Basel, Switzerland. As soon as Oscar finished his tenure in the Swiss Army and apprenticeship as a tool and die maker, he was determined to leave the familiarity of his parents and sister for a life of adventure. At 21, he boarded the ship, The Italia, at Le Havre harbor in France and arrived in New York on September 23, 1952.

Once he arrived to his uncle’s house in Bensenville, as a well-trained Swiss tool and die maker he was able to quickly land jobs with General Motors and Aetna Manufacturing in Bensenville, Illinois. For several years he worked two jobs and loved every minute. The Christmas season was slow for corporate America so Oscar would return to Switzerland to ski. As soon as he could, Oscar got a pilot’s license to operate a single engine plane. It was issued in December 1953. He had a pilot’s license before a driver’s license. He also served in the U.S. Army so he could quickly become a U.S. citizen.

Over a 30-year career at Aetna Manufacturing Oscar was proud that the company had made a part for NASA which is on the moon. Oscar eventually went from humble beginnings as a machine tool operator to President of Aetna Manufacturing. When Oscar retired Krafft family members relocated the company from Bensenville, Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Jim Rondeau, owner, Rondeau’s Hardware, Cable, WI stated that “Oscar was always making something unusual.” I would ask him: “What do you need it for?” Oscar would respond: “Rather than telling me it’s unusual, I’ll tell you what I am working on.” Rondeau also shared that during the 1950’s and 60’s people fixed things themselves and it was the “do-it-yourself era.” You never thought about hiring someone for plumbing, electrical, or building things.

At Oscar’s Memorial on Lake Owen, July 28, 2022, Jamie Roberts, owner of Cable Cafe, announced that she was naming the BLT sandwich “The Oscar” in honor of Oscar Mattle. He was a regular at the counter for breakfast ordering his favorite sandwich. Not only does Oscar have a sandwich named after him but his picture is also on a Swiss stamp. This is an honor for a man with humble beginnings in Switzerland who will never be forgotten by those whose lives he touched. He was unaware of his magic and special effect he had on others. Again, this was his way of “living under the radar.” 

Following Oscar Mattle’s passing, Danielle wanted to honor Oscar’s Legacy by donating his metal and woodworking equipment to schools in the area. One of the recipients is Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe University (LCOOU) who is a proud recipient some of those tools and educational materials.

On September 29, 2023, the Maintenance and Facilities staff from LCOOU visited Krol’s home in Cable, WI, where they picked the pieces LCOOU might need for future metal and wood working classes. The eleven pieces that were donated included the following: Shaper, Automotive Maintenance Machinery Co; Delta DJ 20 Jointer; Delta Homecraft Sander; Craftsmen Band Saw Sander; Craftsman 3 Band Saw Blades; Logan 10in Lathe, Model 200; Cataract Bench Lathe Hardinge Bros.; Porter Cable Router Table with motor and stand, Model 75362; Reliant Model 820 Sawdust Collector; Reliant portable dust collector bag; Famco, Arbor Press. In addition, there were books donated on woodworking and working with various pieces of equipment which were donated.

The University hopes to use some of those materials within the trade job classes they plan to offer students in the future. President Russell Swagger acknowledged the gifts, as he said, “Thanks to Ms. Krol’s donations and others like hers, we can consider the possibilities of expanding the range of classes we offer to our students. We already expand our education to aid both our Native and non-Native students beyond the classroom walls. But with metal and woodworking tools in our inventory, we could really work on aiding our students to think completely outside the box.”

The Cable and Wisconsin community lost an extraordinary human being in Oscar Mattle’s passing. A life well lived whose positive presence touched many lives.

In Memoriam, Oscar Mattle, February 4, 1931-July 25, 2022.

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