Goldenes Verdienstzeichen Österreichs an Carol und Herbert Traxler verliehen

Carol and Herbert Traxler receive the Austrian Decoration of Merit in Gold

Decoration of Merit in Gold

The Traxlers receive the Goldenes Verdienstzeichen der Republik Österreich [Austrian Decoration of Merit in Gold], March 19, 1999.
Ambassador Dr. Helmuth Türk, Dr. Carol Traxler, Dr. Herbert Traxler, Dr. Monika Türk.

Former Ashlander Carol (Bloomquist) Traxler and her husband Herbert Traxler have recently been awarded decorations by the Republic of Austria. At an elegant farewell party on March 19 at the Washington, DC, residence of the Ambassador of Austria to the United States, the Traxlers were presented the Austrian Decoration of Merit in Gold (Goldenes Verdienstzeichen der Republik Oesterreich) by Ambassador Dr. Helmuth Tuerk. After six years in Washington, Ambassador Tuerk returned in late March to Vienna to become Chief of Staff for Austrian President Klestil. Ambassador Tuerk made the presentation at the conclusion of his remarks to the hundred invited guests. The medals were awarded in connection with the longstanding efforts of the Traxlers to perform, teach, and promote Austrian folk dance and music, as well as the Viennese waltz, throughout the Washington area.

The Traxlers are well known in Washington's extensive Austrian-American, German-American and dance communities as the founders and leaders of the Alpine Dancers, a performing and teaching folk dance group that performs throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Founded in 1991, the Alpine Dancers frequently perform at the Austrian and German embassies and many other Washington area venues in conjunction with cultural events and festivals. Recently they added the vocal music of the Alpine Singers to their program, with Austrian folk music – often in an Austrian dialect of German – sung a capella or accompanied by Austrian folk harp. Ambassador and Mme. Tuerk and more than hundred children and parents attended the early December 1998 performance of the Alpine Singers at the Austrian Embassy for the American-Austrian Society Advent celebration. That event also included a visit by St. Nicolaus, who delighted the children with sweets, and by Krampus, who frightened them in his black robe and mask and rustling twigs. All joined in the sing-along of popular Austrian Advent and Christmas music led by the Alpine Singers.

In his speech on March 19 Ambassador Tuerk stressed that this honor was connected particularly with the contribution made by the Traxlers to the great success of the Viennese Opera Ball in Washington. In early 1997 and in mid 1998 the Traxlers gave Viennese waltz lessons at the Austrian Embassy to hundreds of Americans and other dance enthusiasts in the Washington area. They also trained the Young Ladies and Gentlemen in the Opening Cotillion in the Viennese waltz and the polka, as well as in Christina Klein's choreography for the Opening Ceremonies of the first (March 1997) and second Viennese Opera Ball (September 1998). Additionally, early in 1997 the Traxlers gave private lessons at the White House for Chelsea Clinton and several of her young friends and the First Lady's young staffers. The success of these private dance lessons as well as those in the Austrian Embassy contributed obviously to the dancers' enjoyment of the first and second Viennese Opera Ball in Washington.

Carol Traxler is the daughter of Arthur (deceased) and Anne Bloomquist, who owned and operated the Browzer Book Shop for many years in Ashland before retiring to their home on Lake Superior near Washburn. She is the granddaughter of John and Anna Langhammer, both deceased, of Bayfield, and the sister of Washburn artist David Bloomquist. It was Carol's Aunt Rose Langhammer who first taught her the Charleston as a girl, and the love of dance stayed with her. Carol's parents – both artistically and musically talented -- strongly influenced her interest in music and dance, while her maternal grandparents – immigrants from Austria – fostered her interest in German language and culture. Carol studied German with Mrs. Evelyn White at Ashland High School and later earned a B.A. in German from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She studied at several universities in Germany – Freiburg, Munich, and Nuremberg – and lived in Germany for several years before returning to the U.S. After receiving an M.S. in educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, and Ph.D. in educational research methods at UCLA, Carol took her current position as research scientist at the Gallaudet Research Institute in Washington, DC, where she has been since 1984.

Herbert Traxler was born in Vienna, Austria, and sang with the celebrated Vienna Boys' Choir. As a university student he participated in the opening committees for many Viennese balls. Herbert studied economics at the University of Vienna, international relations at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Bologna, Italy, and then earned a Ph.D. in economics from Florida State University. He moved to Maryland to work for the federal government, where he now is a senior economist with the Bureau of Health Professions of the US Public Health Service. He met Carol Bloomquist while singing in the Washington Saengerbund, and in 1988 they married.

The Traxlers travel to Austria and Germany nearly annually to visit family and friends and to gather folk music and dance material to use with the Alpine Dancers. In February 1999 they traveled to Austria, where they attended two Viennese balls and two folk dance festivals. They spent two weeks with Herbert's mother and his son Franz, on winter break during his junior year at the University of Graz, where he is studying German and jazz trumpet this year.

The Traxlers are pleased to have been credited with much of the proliferation in Viennese waltzers in Washington since 1997, when they began teaching the intensive Viennese waltz lessons at the Austrian Embassy. The third Viennese Opera Ball in Washington is planned for March 2000. Information about the balls, the Viennese waltz lessons, and about Viennese waltz in general, as well as about the Alpine Dancers may be found at http://www.traxlers.org in the internet.

The Daily Press, Ashland, Wisconsin, April 28, 1999.

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