Friends of Peter Mansbendel

PETER MANSBENDEL had a very close family and was blessed with many friends and clients. While still in New York, at tea in his studio he met Clotilde Shipe, whose father, Monroe M. Shipe, was a prominent Austin real estate developer. Mansbendel followed Miss Shipe to Austin, where they were married in 1911. In time they became the parents of a daughter (Valerie, 4-9-1913 )and a son (Peter, Monroe b. 5-5-1920). Mansbendel possessed an outsized personality and was loved by many. With his dark good looks, eyes that darted beneath impervious brows and immense personal charm, he could have been one of the "Three Musketeers" according to Austin Architect Delmar Groos.

But at 5'6" he wasn't tall enough for the part. He had broad powerful shoulders that would have made him a formidable adversary. His vigorous movements denoted great physical and mental energy. Mansbendel was a jovial, outgoing man who usually had a ribald story or two to tell. Mrs. Lena Fischer, matriarch of the Dieter family in Austin, characterized Mansbendel's humor in two words. "Very Wicked." She loved it, and him. When asked his occupation Mansbendel usually responded "I'm a chiseler."

He regaled his audiences with his talent for mimicry. A favorite target was his cherished friend Wilhelm Kutalek who worked as a joiner in Mansbendel's studio until entering business for himself as a building contractor. Mansbendel was particularly adept in portraying Kutalek's anguish over having to pay his taxes. Mansbendel also had a theatrical flair which lead to the involvement with the Austin Community players, where he served not only as the art director, but at times as a member of the cast, especially in musicals.

Singing was the great love of Mansbendel's life. He was a devoted member of the Saengerrude, the german choral union that continues to this day. His rich baritone voice was heard also in the choir of St. David Episcopal Church. And there were many Saturday night soirees in Mansbendel's home. Here gathered his good friends Dewey Bradford, owner of the paint store, Phil and William Dieter from the Calcasieu Lumber Co., Godfrey Flury, then in the outdoor advertising business, Anton Stasswender, whom owner of the Monument works, Arthur Fehr, a young architect, Paul Wakefield, Public relations, together with other friends from the Saengerrunde, the theatrical group, and the lumber companies.

Mansbendel was a gracious and ingratiating host. Prohibition gave him the opportunity to perfect his skill as a brew master. His Son-In-Law, WT Williams recalled that he has a wonderful collection of bottles for which he found repeated use. Except for the 80 that exploded in a joyous midnight celebration in an upstairs closet. He also made a tangy red wine, and with a little more ingenuity, produced a drinkable champagne from honey. Mrs. Mansbendel remained in the background on these occasions. She was a pleasant women, but quite reticent-much the opposite of her husband.

Mansbendel could be irascible with friends, but it is a mark of his warm humanity that they invariably dismissed this as "artistic temperament" and forgave him without apology. He adored children—-his own and everyone else's—and the feeling was reciprocated. "He understood us," recalled librarian Yvonne Greear, "but he didn't tolerate nonsense." She remembered for years he kept goats. From time to time he would make ice cream which, he claimed still had the ba-a in it. In the summertime, Mansbendel was a member of the Rock Sitters of Barton Springs.

Frequently, he relaxed with tennis with next door neighbor, Mrs. David Moffatt. What kind of tennis player she was asked? " He was a much better woodcarver." In her widowhood, Mrs. Moffatt established a home bakery. It was her illustrious friend that she learned the art of icing cakes.


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