The man who brought steaks to legendary local restaurant Li’l Abner’s — and served seven terms on the Pima County Board of Supervisors — is remembered with a road named for him on the far northwest side.
Lambert Kautenburger was born in Chicago on June 17, 1901, to Joseph and Emma Kautenburger. He was raised in Chicago and later worked in his father’s bar.
During World War I, he served in the U.S. Navy on a steamship and, as part of his duty, he often had to load coal into the boilers by wheelbarrow.
After the war he served in the Army National Guard, with the rank of sergeant, and also ran a bar and restaurant on historic Rush Street near Lake Michigan.
On June 28, 1920, he married Lucille Diefenbach in Chicago, and they had three sons: Wallace J., born in 1922; Robert L., in 1924; and William N., in 1932.
The Kautenburger family arrived in Tucson in 1939. The following year, they were living at 2550 N. Stone Ave., and after a couple of moves they relocated to a ranch west of Silverbell Road, in present-day Picture Rocks. William recalled, “We had chickens, turkeys, a few cows and horses. That’s where I learned to ride.”
At the tail end of World War II, Kautenburger was elected to the Pima County Board of Supervisors, and the family moved to near “A” Mountain so it would be in the area Kautenburger represented, William said. He served seven terms as a Democrat, from 1946 to 1960, including seven years (1953-1960) as chairman.
From 1942 to 1946 he managed the Blue Moon Ballroom, on land now occupied by the Tucson House apartments.
During the late 1940s and early 1950s, he owned Lambert’s Café at 1032 N. Park Ave., near the University of Arizona campus.
In a 1958 interview, he said that the board’s biggest achievements in his day were better roads and the purchase of land for recreational use. More than 200 miles of county roads were improved while he was on the board, and the county bought land for Fort Lowell and Tucson Mountain parks.
Following his time in local politics, he owned Li’l Abner’s restaurant on Silverbell at Cortaro roads for a period. When he took over the restaurant, it didn’t serve steaks, his son William said — his father built the outside grill and began cooking them. He also brought in Western bands to play at the establishment and had a small rodeo ground where cowboys performed roping tricks.
On June 28, 1970, the Arizona Daily Star announced the 50th wedding anniversary celebration of Lambert and Lucille Kautenburger, to be held at the Pioneer Hotel. Lambert died on March 7, 1976.
The Pima County Board of Supervisors established Lambert Lane in 1958.