Hey Buddy, I’m Bill tells the story of Bill Sackter, the namesake of Wild Bill’s (formerly Wild Bill’s Coffee Shop) in the University of Iowa School of Social Work. From his early life in Minneapolis to his 44-year institutionalization for an intellectual disability to his years of friends and fame in Iowa City, the exhibit shares a glimpse into Bill’s life and legacy. The exhibit also acknowledges some of Iowa’s own history with institutionalization and progress with disability rights, and places Bill’s story in the context of the historic treatment of people with disabilities. The exhibit not only tells how Bill’s life embodied the disability practices and perspectives of his time, but also how the national prominence of his life story helped America make progress toward better understanding and treatment of people with disabilities.
The exhibition features artifacts, documents, and ephemera from Bill’s life as well as ways for visitors to contribute stories about their own experiences with disability.
Exhibit Curation: Jen Knights and Brad Ferrier
Information below is a work in progress. Check back occasionally for updates.
Hey Buddy, I'm Bill Exhibition Guide
Coming soon! Accessible PDF document. The complete guide to the exhibition, including curators' notes, a comprehensive item and source list, and complete exhibition credits.
Audio Files with Transcription
Hear original audio of Bill and some of his friends. Includes: Bill and Jack Doepke singing "Oh, Lutefisk," Bill playing his harmonica, Barry Morrow's eulogy for Bill from 1983, and an interview with Tom Walz from 1984 about his friendship with Bill. Transcription included for audio files with speaking or singing.
ADDITIONAL VIDEO RESOURCES
Watch A Friend Indeed: The Bill Sackter Story, a full-length documentary by Lane Wyrick:
This clip about Wild Bill's Coffee Shop at the University of Iowa School of Social Work was filmed in 2012. It shows how the coffee shop looked at that time and how it operated. Several of the furniture items in the exhibit can be seen in this video:
PODCAST EPISODES: WILD BILL'S CUP OF SOCIAL JUSTICE
Episode 1: The Origins of Wild Bill's Coffee Shop
July 26, 2021. Hear Jen Knights and Stephen Cummings talk about the origin of Wild Bill's and share more about Bill Sackter. Wild Bill's Cup of Social Justice is a production of the University of Iowa School of Social Work.
Episode 2: The Big Pivot, with Dr. Mercedes Bern-Klug
November 2, 2021. Jen Knights and Stephen Cummings talk with Dr. Mercedes Bern-Klug about the future of Wild Bill's and share memories of Bill Sackter. Wild Bill's Cup of Social Justice is a production of the University of Iowa School of Social Work.
SELECT HISTORIC NEWS ARTICLES
April 24, 1977. Barry Morrow. The Des Moines Register. The first major news story about Bill Sackter, written by his dear friend and guardian Barry Morrow. Note: Access available through ProQuest with University of Iowa HawkID login.
Mrs. Riesz 'lived' her book
November 4, 1978. Iowa City Press-Citizen. News article about Iowa City woman Elizabeth Riesz, author of First Years of a Down's Syndrome Child (1984) and Let's Cook! Healthy Meals for Independent Living (2010). Riesz wrote about her experiences raising a daughter with Down's syndrome. Note: Access available through ProQuest with University of Iowa HawkID login.
Bar mitzvah for Bill
October 14, 1979. Gary W. Galluzzo. The Des Moines Register. Article about Bill Sackter's bar mitzvah in Iowa City. (p. 41/3E) Note: Access available through ProQuest with University of Iowa HawkID login
December 4, 1981. Photo by Dirk VanDerwerker. The Daily Iowan. Front page photo of Bill arriving at Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City for the premiere of TV movie Bill.
Film of 'UI's' Bill is a triumph
December 7, 1981. Roxanne T. Mueller. The Daily Iowan. Positive local review of the TV movie Bill, starring Mickey Rooney as Bill Sackter and Dennis Quaid as Barry Morrow. (p. 12)
Harmonica in hand, 'Bill' accepts award
February 1, 1982. Roxanne T. Mueller. The Daily Iowan. Coverage of Bill at the 39th annual Golden Globe Awards, during which he accepted an award on behalf of Mickey Rooney for Bill.
The long goodbye
June 28, 1998. Darlene Pfister. Minneapolis Star Tribune. News article about the history and closing of the institution in Faribault. Note: Access available through ProQuest with University of Iowa HawkID login.
ADDITIONAL PUBLICATIONS AND RESEARCH GUIDES
Website by Lane Wyrick dedicated to his documentary, A Friend Indeed: The Bill Sackter Story, and to Bill.