“Dr. Albert F. Kaeser (1878-1940) was born on a farm near Highland on Dec. 9, 1878, the son of Fred “Fritz” Kaeser and his wife, Catherine Candi Kaeser. When Dr. Kaeser was a boy, the family moved into Highland. His elementary education was in the schools here. He then spent two years at Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In 1894, he entered the University of Illinois, graduating in 1898. He attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Chicago, graduating in 1901.
“He first practiced medicine at Bloomington, Ill., for three years, returning to Highland in May 1904 and entering practice here. Dr. Kaeser married Miss Jenny ‘Jane’ Latzer on June 26, 1907. One daughter was born to them (the future Mrs. Marian Kaeser Piper of St. Louis).
“In 1909, he took a post-graduate course in the best medical school in Germany. In 1918, he served as a captain in the Medical Corps during World War I.
“The life of Dr. Albert F. Kaeser, physician and surgeon, was very exceptional in all respects. He was a great physician, master of surgery and a surgical master, of high moral character, loyal to his friends and patients, and charitable to all. He died on Jan. 28, 1940 at the age of 61 years. (His wife, Jenny Latzer Kaeser, lived to be 107 years old.)
“His generosity and his influence, and that of his wife, were always back of every movement that meant a better community life in church, in school and in business. (Jennie Latzer Kaeser, in 1970, had her translation of Solomon Koepfli’s The Settling of Highland printed in limited edition, and in 1971, was the first $1,000 donation to the preservation of the 1833 Swiss residence/barn that the Highland Historical Society was restoring, which was just north of McGinley’s in Saline Township.)
“The renovation of the old brick building on East Broadway (the former brickyard office, stage coach stop and residence) was undertaken by the Highland Historical Society and their daughter, Marian Kaeser Piper. The new Kaeser Park was dedicated Nov. 9, 1986 as a memorial to Highland’s master surgeon and his wife, Jennie.”
It is now called the Highland Museum at Dr. Albert F. Kaeser Park.
WIDMER FLORAL CO.
The owner of the company, Joseph Widmer, after completing his education in Europe, as a landscape gardener, immigrated to St. Louis, Mo., in the late 1860s. There, he applied his trade helping to landscape new estates in south St. Louis.
“In 1869, he came to Highland, a town with a familiar Swiss background, starting Widmer Floral Co. in 1870, mostly with cold frames, hot beds and a small greenhouse. He had one mule and a small plow. Later, he acquired a horse and wagon, which he used to bring flowers and plants for sale to neighboring towns, as well as local trade.
“As the business prospered, more greenhouses were built, and business was also done on the wholesale market in St. Louis. His sons, Maurice and Joseph, joined him in this endeavor.
“After the untimely death of his son, Joseph G. Widmer, on his 29th birthday in 1905, Maurice purchased the business from his father. He was later joined by his brother-in-law, Frank Grimmer, in 1913. Frank retired in 1949, and at that time, Joseph (Joe) and Cletus (Clete), sons of Maurice, joined the business. Maurice retired in 1965. Joe retired in 1984, and at the present time (1987), Cletus and his wife, Jane, are the owners.” (Sesquicentennial Book, Page 38.)
Cletus “Buzz” Widmer and his wife, Jane Ulmet Widmer, continued the floral business. Jane died in 1999 and Buzz continued, with Gale Wilhelm Thole managing the business. Buzz sold the Widmer Floral Co. to Gale Thole on July 1, 2011. Buzz died on March 28, 2012. Buzz and Jane’s son, Rex, died Jan. 14, 1999. Surviving is a daughter, Kim, and son, Rad. Buzz and Jane were great friends, and he was a true Rotarian.