Local writer, boxing expert and OnMilwaukee contributor Pete Ehrmann passed away on Sunday, Nov. 17 at the age of 68. The following is a tribute from his nephew Peter Kolesari.
When I was a confused and itinerant college student in the early 2000s, the professor of my professional writing class assigned the class to interview someone in their hopeful field of employment. Back then, I had a difficult enough time deciding which dining hall I was going to stuff my face for that night’s supper, much less where or what kind of employment I would seek after college, but one thing I always had in the back of my mind was writing.
I knew my uncle, Pete Ehrmann, was a fine writer, and he often captivated me with the letters he wrote to me while being away at college. I was drawn to his humorous, clever and self-depreciating style; and receiving these letters via the U.S. Mail often became the highlight of my day.
When the time came for this interview assignment, I wisely chose Pete – and it ended up being one of the highlights of my semester. I got to know him in a way I never had and learned how he developed his unique writing style. While I did not garner a career directly in writing, my uncle’s passion and enthusiasm for writing influenced me greatly.
When growing up, Pete had visions of being a champion boxer, but after quickly earning an 0-1 record, he realized his talents would be better served outside the ring and focused on his writing instead. And oh, the writing he did, generating countless articles for The Ring Magazine, Boxing Illustrated, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, OnMilwaukee, among many other print and online media. Pete became an authority on the sport, and his historical knowledge was highly sought after. He brought life and renewed interest to boxing fighters, and truly to a sport which had long since passed its heyday.
Pete’s day job was being the editor-in-chief of a monthly publication for a fraternal, non-profit organization, but it was in this boxing and freelance work that he truly flourished. Like an enormously talented musician whose days were spent playing music within the rigid confines of the classical symphony, then at night morphing into a jazz musician with limitless boundaries, he researched the sport on his own and had the freedom to write about whom, what and how he wanted.
This clearly showed in his prolific output. Thanks to the internet, his writing legacy will live on forever. Simply type "Pete Ehrmann boxing" into the search box, and you could spend days reading his work.
But unquestionably his greatest legacy will live on in the form of his three adult children: Matt, Zack and Dana. Often in his letters to me, he would fill me in on the exciting goings-on in their lives and how proud he was of them. During this difficult time, I am thinking of both them and Pete’s wife, Carol. I’ll forever miss you, UP, and will chronicle your letters in a book one day.
As I concluded my interview wrap-up with you years ago, thanks for opening my eyes to the wonderful world of good writing.