top of page
Home / About MPLS / Ken Butzier




Kenneth G. Butzier was a 1945 graduate of Fort Dodge High School. He graduated from Fort Dodge Junior College, Iowa State Teachers College (UNI) in 1953, later received his master's degree in speech from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and did post-graduate work at the University of Northern Colorado.

He began his teaching career in Mount Pleasant, and in 1960 joined the faculty of the Department of Teaching at the University of Northern Iowa as speech and drama director at Malcolm Price Laboratory School. During the next twenty-six years, he taught high school speech and English and directed plays, musicals, variety shows, and Madrigal Dinners.

He was born March 15, 1927, in Fort Dodge, son of John Charles and Essie Ree Packard Butzier. He married Mary Helen Rutledge on August 13, 1950.Ken Butzier died at Woodrest Nursing Home, Walker, Minnesota on September 6, 2003 at the age of 76. 

Ken left a lasting mark on the lives of the many students he touched over the course of his career.  READ ABOUT THE DEDICATION OF THE BUTZIER LOBBY IN THE STRAYER-WOOD THEATRE.... 




From Barbara Severin Lounsberry (SCHS 1965):  As a member of the MPLS Class of 1965, I had the joy of partaking in the first years of the Butzier-Hale magic, since they came in 1960.  In 9th and 10th-grade English, Ken Butzier taught us all to speak—with both notecards and poise.  As a result, when we entered college we either passed out of “Introduction to Speech” or found it an easy, easy “A.” 

A hallmark of Ken’s and Les’s theatre and music legacy was the high-quality of material they chose.  Ken directed Lab School productions of The Diary of Anne Frank, Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, The Miracle Worker, The Skin of Our Teeth, A Man for All Seasons, The Madwoman of Chaillot, Antigone, Shakespeare’s As You Like It and Twelfth Night—among many others.  The two co-directed Oklahoma, South Pacific, Annie Get Your Gun, Guys and Dolls, The Music Man, My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof, Hello Dolly and other shows, and showcased student talent in slick variety shows.  The peak, perhaps, came in 1980 when the pair co-directed a special Les and Collette adaptation (and English translation) for high school students of Mozart’s beloved comic opera The Marriage of Figaro.

Most of all, Butzier and Hale imbued us with their love of theatre and music.  Many students followed in their footsteps and became professional musicians or theatre artists.  Most of the rest of us kept theatre and music alive across our days.  In graduate school when I had to pick 3 “areas” of speciality, I immediately chose “Modern Drama” to aid me as a (now) 40-year newspaper drama critic.  More striking is the story of my classmate, Bruce Wheaton.  Bruce earned a Ph.D. in linguistics and became one of the top Vice Presidents at the University of Iowa, but throughout his long career he also wrote plays—and directed plays—and continues to do so.


The love for theatre and music—so passionately planted in us before age 18—grew and flourished and for many of us, has never died.  The belief that experiment should be part of one’s life is priceless—only matched by the better feeling: “You can do it.  Why not try?”  I hope this powerful legacy will be revived in the coming years.  READ MORE OF BARBARA LOUNSBERRY'S RECOLLECTIONS......


As the images below illustrate, theatre and drama productions were a regular part of the Training School/Laboratory School curriculum. From a 1909 children's production of Hiawatha to a 1967 presentation of the musical Guys and Dolls, the Laboratory School curriculum promoted the value of students participating extensively in the arts of all kinds, particularly theatre productions and drama.


Receive the latest news and updates in your inbox


Receive News and Updates

bottom of page