Packers PR man Remmel had varied interests

Warren Gerds
Press-Gazette Media
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Lee Remmel poses with some of his Green Bay Packers memorabilia in his office at Lambeau Field in March 1996. It includes a game ball from the Packers' 1,000th game on Oct. 1, 1979.

After Lee Remmel left the Press-Gazette as a sports reporter for what became his famed career as public relations director and whizbang historian for the Green Bay Packers, he still regularly returned to the newspaper office.

Remmel loved to chat it up with former colleagues throughout the newsroom and unload his latest jokes.

But his first stop always was to drop off publicity materials about the next concert of the Brown County Civic Music Association.

The organization books classical music performers from throughout the world, and Remmel and his wife, Noreen, were deeply involved in the volunteer group.

Remmel joined its board of directors in 1978 and was elected to the executive committee shortly after that.

Since about 1986, the Remmels were part of the talent selection committee. The group is responsible for researching artists to perform at Ralph Holter Auditorium of Green Bay West High School.

"It was during those committee meetings that we really got to know Lee," said Roger and Helen Bintz, mainstays of Civic Music. "Lee was extremely articulate and tactful. He could succinctly express his opinion or thoughts without offending anyone of a different viewpoint.

"Lee possessed a very timely sense of humor and a quick wit. For several years, Lee served as emcee of our membership campaign kickoff luncheons."

The Remmels also were Civic Music's head ushers. They were fixtures at the center doors of the concert hall.

"At a concert in the spring of 2007, a guest of the artist remarked after entering the hall, 'I recognize that fellow who handed the program to me — he's from the Packers," the Bintzes said.

Being with the Packers had perks for Remmel's opera-loving side. When the team traveled to New York to play the Giants, the Remmels took the opportunity to attend the Metropolitan Opera.

"Lee also seemed to prefer orchestral and string ensemble performances, although he was always very open-minded and cognizant of each performance area — strings, winds, vocal and piano — which our talent selection committee would consider," the Bintzes said.

Rita Kilmer, the association's executive secretary, was on committees with the Remmels as well.

"Whatever his preferences, Lee was always agreeable with the talent selection committee's decision on performance choices," Kilmer said. "I treasure a Packers pen Lee gave me years ago — a token gift from a man for whom football and classical music are not worlds apart."

Remmel enjoyed socializing.

"After our committee work was completed and we would enjoy refreshments, invariably we would discuss his other love: the Packers," the Bintzes said.

"Lee must have had every detail in the Packers history memorized. He could recite statistics of Packers games and standout individual performances including date, down, time remaining, yards gained, other players involved in the play, etc."

Remmel inspired an artist on the stage of the Weidner Center in a concert April 26, 2008. The Packers sponsored the concert in Remmel's name in honor of his long service to Civic Music. Organist Paul Jacobs of the prestigious Juilliard School faculty was thrilled to be part of his first concert that tied classical music to a National Football League team.

"Jacobs was very impressed by the fact that Lee combined the love of professional football and classical music in his life," the Bintzes said. "He encouraged the audience to follow Lee's example in expanding their interests to such diverse genre."

Jacobs told the audience there's "room in people's lives for many things," and Remmel exemplified that.

The Bintzes were particularly impressed one evening in 1992 at the Remmel home. The Remmels invited them to help in planning a European trip.

"During the pre-dinner hour, Lee received several phone calls from prominent persons in the world of the NFL — one who was writing a book (it was Dick Schaap)," the Bintzes said. "Without leaving his chair or checking any written memo, Lee could answer questions and seemingly had memorized the phone number of everyone in his world.

"An example of the phenomenal memory of this man: After an Civic Music executive committee meeting, Lee was told the phone number of a person he would need to call, he nodded his acknowledgement of the number, the speaker offered a pen to write it down, but he calmly said, 'No, that's OK, I've got it.'

"Not many people in their late 70s could possess that level of confidence in their memory."

— Warren Gerds retired from the Press-Gazette in 2012.

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