Wisconsin Life #402: “Guiding Lights & Gurus”

September 28, 2016


This collection of stories from people sharing their “Wisconsin Life” includes the story of Deneen Carmichael, a very busy small business owner, wife and mother to two young children… who also works as a volunteer firefighter with the Middleton Fire Department.  Join Carmichael in the firehouse – and in responding situations – to hear her describe how she’s living out a dream after realizing, “I was born to do this at this time.”

Then Wisconsin Life travels to Ace Boxing Club in Milwaukee to meet Frank Porter. He runs the after-school boxing program begun nearly fifty years ago by his father, former professional boxer, Del Porter.  Influenced by an Ojibwe warrior tradition, Frank Porter leads at-risk youth in a program that emphasizes discipline and responsibility.

Next, it’s over to McFarland to meet Steve Kozar. Although he grew up in northern Illinois, Steve Kozar considers himself a “full Cheesehead.” During a cross country road trip as a young man he remembers thinking, “Wisconsin is the prettiest place. This is what I want to paint.” That is exactly what he has done for almost thirty years. Kozar paints Wisconsin landscapes with such realism that they sometimes play tricks on your eyes and make you think you are looking at a photograph. He drives around obsessively photographing scenes from the Dairy State to generate ideas for his paintings. Then, Kozar often spends months in his basement meticulously re-creating every detail from one of his photographs to create his life-like painting. His passion is not so much about being an “artist”, but rather seeing his ideas become reality.

Also on tap, a trip to the Sandhill Wildlife Area near Babcock to meet Britt Searles. She is a DNR wildlife program associate who leads the crane watching events for the DNR at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge.

Finally, Wisconsin Life heads to Eau Claire to learn about Ken Anderson, the Mayberry Guru. Anderson grew up as a big, big fan of the Andy Griffith show. In particular, he loved Barney Fife.  Today, Anderson continues to live his passion for the show after fixing up a 1965 Ford Galaxy 500 replica Mayberry squad car to look like the one from the show.  And while he says he’s not doing an impersonation, once Anderson dons his deputy costume, people might be forgiven for mistaking him for the sweetly bumbling Deputy Fife.  Anderson refuses payment for driving the vehicle in parades and other events, but will take donations for his local library… while hoping he can remind people to slow down and enjoy the small things in life.


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