Chris Kalishek: Pantry Volunteer’s Life of Adventure

Hope Center Pantry volunteers make a lasting impact by feeding the hungry in Brown County, Wisconsin. The pantry offers many different ways to volunteer. Here’s Chris Kalishek’s story of his life adventures that includes volunteering at our food pantry.

Hope Center Pantry volunteer Chris Kalishek in his restored a 1978 Triumph Spitfire sports car

By Chris Kalishek, Hope Center Food Pantry Volunteer

I have been volunteering at the St. Patrick’s Food Pantry (now Hope Center Food Pantry) for about six years and really enjoy the nice people I work with. They are all great folks.

Early Years and Educational Pursuits

I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and we moved to Green Bay in 1963. I went to Jackson Elementary School, Franklin Middle School and then graduated from West High School. After high school, I attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, and then transferred to their new campus in Prescott, Arizona, where I earned an Associate Degree in Aeronautical Science.

Adventures in Aviation and a Passion for Sailing

I went back to school at UW-Green Bay and was working on my Bachelor of Science in Chemistry while working full time at the airport. I worked at Green Bay Aviation on the flight line, refueling airplanes. One of the perks of the job was a great discount on renting airplanes. So, I was flying a lot and earned my Commercial/Instrument pilot license.

I also got involved with the university sailing team and was teaching sailing at the UW-Green Bay sailing center. I raced sailboats on the Great Lakes as a crew member of the Fancy Free, a 39 ft. racing boat. I had the opportunity to compete five times in the annual Chicago/Mackinac yacht race where we set a record one year having made the 300-mile trip in just 27 hours.

Working with Hazelton Laboratories and Hewlett-Packard

After I graduated from UW-Green Bay with a degree in Chemistry, I took my first job in Madison at Hazelton Laboratories where I specialized in Environmental Chemistry. My next job was with Hewlett-Packard as an Engineer for their Scientific Instrument division. There I received training in electronic repair as well as computer programming and repair. I travelled all over the world with Hewlett-Packard and enjoyed 27 years working for that great company.

Organizing Vintage Scooters Rallies

While employed with Hewlett-Packard, I started a vintage scooter club in Madison and held annual rallies that grew every year. The last one had over 100 vintage Vespa meter scooters. I wrote articles for the European Scootering magazine where my club was featured. I also got a free subscription to the magazine.

Taking Flight in an Antique Airplane

I bought my first airplane, a 1946 Luscombe model 8A, and had the adventure of a lifetime flying it home from Manitoba, Canada. That was a 1,500-mile trip in winter in my antique airplane with no radios and a compass that didn’t read correctly. At the private airport where I kept the Luscombe, the hangar next door had a Sonerai racing plane. Because there was no door on the building, I would see the little airplane every time I was at the airport but had never met the owner.

The next summer, I flew my airplane to the EAA air show and camped out for a week under the wing. While watching the daily air show, a man came up to me and introduced himself. It was the owner of the little racing airplane. We talked for a while and then he informed me that there was a Sonerai 1 race plane for sale but I only had a few days to make the deal happen.

Formula V Air Thrilling Racing Career

Anyway, that was how I got into Formula V Air Racing and started flying in air shows around the country. I had a short but successful racing career being the first “rookie” to get a first-place victory on my very first race. I’m also only the second person to survive a mid-air collision in an air race. The only other person to survive was Astronaut “Hoot” Gibson. I built another racer but was never successful in getting the racing going again. I still fly whenever possible and I’m always looking for my next airplane. But in the meantime, I bought and restored a 1978 Triumph Spitfire sports car and I drive it as much as I can to all the car shows in the Green Bay area.  

Join Chris as a Food Pantry Volunteer Today

Volunteers provide an essential community service by feeding the hungry in the Green Bay area of Northeast Wisconsin. Thank you, Carol, and all of the volunteers at Hope Center Pantry. Contact us about volunteer opportunities or to schedule a visit to the pantry to experience volunteerism first-hand. The pantry is open 1-3pm Monday through Thursday at 505 Clinton St. Green Bay. Read the How You Can Help information to learn more.