Celebrating 101 years of Bill Sackter

BY DI STAFF | APRIL 10, 2014 5:00 AM

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On Saturday, a different band and a different cake will be showcased every hour at Uptown Bill's, 730 S. Dubuque St., in celebration of Bill Sackter's birthday.

Sackter, who would have been 101 this year, was the founder of the original Wild Bill's Coffee Shop in North Hall.

Two Minnesota folk musicians, Mike Munson and Jake Ilika, will perform as part of the celebration at 7 p.m. Saturday. There is a suggested donation of $5 to $10. Additional music performances will be begin at 10 a.m.

Sackter came to Iowa City after he spent 44 years in the state mental hospital in Faribault, Minn. He came here with friend Barry Morrow when Morrow was offered a job in Iowa City.

Originally Wild Bill's was supposed to be a job just for Sackter, but eventually it grew into a community institution and inspiration for many people with disabilities throughout the city.

In 1981, the story Morrow wrote about Sackter and the coffee shop became a television movie titled Bill. It starred Mickey Rooney as Sackter and Dennis Quaid as Morrow. In 1983, there was a sequel, Bill On His Own.

Sackter died in 1983, but he remains an inspirational figure in the community, and the coffee shop continues to be a project for the School of Social Work by employing individuals with disabilities.

— by Samantha Gentry

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