Middleton’s Philanthropic Pianist, Bob Auerbach, Clinches AARP’s Andrus Award

by Madonna

MIDDLETON, Wis. (WMTV) – Bob Auerbach, a well-known figure in Middleton celebrated for his altruistic endeavors, is set to receive AARP Wisconsin’s prestigious Andrus Award in recognition of his outstanding volunteerism.

Affectionately known as ‘The Piano Man,’ Auerbach has earned acclaim for his tireless contributions to the community, both large and small. The Andrus Award is a testament to his selfless efforts.


Auerbach’s journey as ‘The Piano Man’ began in 2012 when he started serenading residents at senior centers throughout Middleton. Auerbach, now 94, found solace in playing the piano for seniors, particularly those with cognitive impairments, following the passing of his wife of 62 years. His musical repertoire often consists of hits from their younger days, prompting sing-alongs and creating moments of joy for the residents.


Emily, Auerbach’s daughter, highlighted his courage and resilience, describing him as a Holocaust survivor, refugee, and a widower who, despite his grief, strives to make life better for others.


Beyond his musical endeavors, Auerbach’s generosity has left an indelible mark. On his 90th birthday, instead of seeking gifts, he offered a remarkable six-digit gift—$100,000 as a match to the UW Odyssey Project. This act of benevolence not only earned him the AFP-Madison outstanding philanthropist award but also inspired a wave of donations, totaling $150,000 to combat poverty.

“He uses his talents and his life story not only to bring the joy of music to the elderly and disabled but also as a way to raise money for charity,” emphasized Emily, who nominated her father for the AARP award.

AARP’s Andrus Award for Community Service stands as the organization’s most esteemed statewide recognition for volunteering. Auerbach expressed his gratitude, stating, “Having been a proud member of AARP for almost half a century, I am particularly honored and humbled to receive this award.”

The award includes a $1,000 donation from AARP to the recipient’s chosen organization. Auerbach has decided to direct the entire prize to the UW Odyssey Project, a venture initiated by Emily that will become part of a million-dollar matching campaign supported by local philanthropists.

Martha Cranley, AARP Wisconsin State Director, commended Auerbach, noting, “Bob clearly goes above and beyond the definition of the word volunteer. He serves as an inspiring example of the phrase ‘service before self.'”

The award ceremony is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 4, at the Middleton Senior Center, where Auerbach will be honored. True to his giving spirit, he plans to bring his piano to the ceremony, ensuring that the celebration is accompanied by the uplifting notes of ‘The Piano Man.’


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