On April 19th, Chile commemorated the life of Arnold J. Bauer (1931-2015) in a unique ceremony that he would have loved. Some of his closest friends, students, and his wife, Danielle Greenwood, gathered at El Huique hacienda, a beautiful estate (San José del Carmen el Huique) in the Colchagua Valley, two hours outside of Santiago, now a museum.
Friends and family gave stirring tribute to Arnie and his ashes were then deposited in the chapel of the hacienda with a lovely plaque that stressed his long love affair with Chile. Arnie would have appreciated the emphasis on heartfelt testimony rather than pomp and ceremony, the location at an hacienda he had studied and appreciated for decades, and the hearty meal afterwards, with what he called “real food” and his favorite red wines.
Arnie’s former student and now Chilean congressman Issa Kort organized the event and gained permission to leave his ashes at El Huique. This estate was a centerpiece of Arnie’s magisterial Chilean Rural Economy, a book that not only told the long economic history of Chile’s productive valleys but also explored social relations, particularly between the patrón and peons. The bonds of servitude, for example, fascinated Arnie. He loved El Huique’s beauty, its simple architecture, impressive chapel, rich fields, and nearby mountains, and over the decades he brought countless students and friends to visit. Arnie also enjoyed comparing the area to his native Kansas.
The speakers remembered Arnie’s loyalty to friends and family, his contempt for snobbery and posing, his sartorial style (the famous cape), his appreciation for language, his sharp sense of humor, and much more. They recalled his work not only as an historian of Chile but also as a director of the University of California Education Abroad Program in Santiago and as a mentor to many Chilean students in Davis, Santiago, and elsewhere. Many present at the ceremony had visited el Huique with Arnie and they evoked the hikes, the meals, and the conversations. The ceremony had its share of tears but also much laughter. Those of us present thanked Issa, Danielle, and Arnie’s daughter, Rebecca Bauer, for making it possible to bring his ashes to El Huique. All of us recalled Arnie’s curiosity, empathy, and love for dialogue. Many of us said we would return to el Huique, to continue these long conversations with Arnie.