Meet Living Legend Finalist Bruce Carnahan

Nominated by: Calli Ann Carnahan, daughter
Growing up in Ashland, Wisconsin, my father has always been regarded as the epitome of a “Man’s Man,” learning to hunt, fish, and survive in the woods from the day he was born.

While my siblings and I were growing up (and even today for that matter), my dad never seemed to run out of amazing stories that seem so foreign from the way life is today. He tells grand tales of getting dropped in the woods at the age of ten, alone, on the weekend for entertainment. He says he would bring with a few cans of beans, and a sleeping bag, and spend his summer weekends in the woods.

His lifelong experience shows. I have always been amazed by the amount of knowledge my dad has, as never once has he flaunted it. I swear he knows every edible thing in the wild, how to track any animal, and can sense the direction he is facing with his eyes closed. I have never met another person who can ward off the cold as he does, not even wearing gloves while ice fishing out on Lake Superior.

Now, by the time I came along I already had a 10-year-old brother, and a 7-year-old sister. My mom was a stay at home mom and worked part-time at the Hardware Hank in town. My dad worked construction and had owned his own company for a few years by the time I was born.

My mom and dad met when they were in their teens, and my mom got pregnant with my brother, Tony, when she was 19, and my dad 24. I swear they have never once had it easy.

Their journey was remarkable. From what they say, they lived in a tent on Madeline Island for a summer while my dad was working there, in a hunting shack in Bayfield with no bathroom and a wood burning stove, with my grandparents on their farm, in a trailer on the outskirts of town, and eventually in a small cabin on McCarrey Lake in Iron River, WI.

My siblings and I all had different childhoods, but we can all agree on remembering 2 things very distinctively; love, and Kromer.

As I’ve mentioned, my dad worked construction, and had been doing so since he was 21. Everyday once the weather turned chilly, my dad left the house in a flannel shirt, a pair of Carhartts, and the Kromer he’s had since the beginning of time. No need for more than one, h¬e says, as they last your whole life. A Kromer is the one and only hat my dad ever wears. He wears it hunting, fishing, skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, errand running, driveway plowing, and anything else that he’s doing outside in the cold. My Dad has influenced many in their purchase of Kromers, including my boyfriend Sam whom, didn’t follow his “you only need one rule.”

I swear, he just gets cuter and more loving every year. If he isn’t doing something outside, he is visiting us kids, playing with his grandkids, or has his arm around his wife of 33 years. He loves twitter and self describes himself as a “Builder, Hunter, Fisherman, Outdoorsman, Sports Enthusiast, Proud Gramps, Pops & Gruncle,” but I can assure you, he is much more than that.

Charity: Habitat for Humanity

Hometown: Iron River, WI

Meet Living Legend Finalist Chuck Brockman

Nominated by: Gary Strobel, friend & fellow board member
In 1989, Chuck founded Save Our South Channel Lights to help restore and rebuild two range lights in Lake St. Clair, Michigan that were built in 1859. For some context, that was before Abraham Lincoln was President or the zipper was invented. These lights were keys to the development of this region. One million dollars of merchandise passed through the area each day and the lights were essential to guide ships to the St. Clair River.

Painstaking volunteer hours and much dedication have brought the lights to their existing state. The front light remains to be restored and the rear light needs its keepers dwelling rebuilt. The rear light was restored in 2005 and maintenance continues. The group of 7 of us – led by Chuck – is dedicated and devotes many personal hours to come up with ways to raise money and to keep the lights in sufficient condition to hold weddings on the rear island. Chuck is 79 and does this all of this in the name of his late wife Scotty. Save Our South Channel Lights is an all volunteer 5O1(c)3 organization – 100% of money raised goes towards the restoration efforts.

Charity: Save Our South Channel Lights

Hometown: Harsens Island, MI

Meet Living Legend Finalist Helen Baird

Nominated by: Michael Christopher, grandson 
My grandmother, Helen Baird, just turned 97 years young in August of this year. To make a long, complicated story short, she was my mother’s aunt, until circumstance and courage changed things. My mom was born into a family that had too many children and too little money. Instead of allowing the kids to be adopted out to strangers and possibly split up, some of the aunts decided to legally adopt the children themselves. In a nutshell, that’s how my mom’s aunt became her mother and my grandmother.

My grandmother is an AMAZING woman with an unlimited number of stories to tell. She still has all of her faculties, walks without aid, mows her own lawn and only recently quit driving and gave up her driver’s license. She is a cancer survivor after having part of a lung removed decades ago. She is a former realtor, former bar owner and wife to a man that fought in WWII. She has witnessed and lived first hand many historical events that the rest of us have only read about. Helen Baird is OUR Living Legend and I believe you’d be doing yourself a great service by making this amazing, remarkable woman…yours.

Meet Living Legend Finalist Ethan Arky

Nominated by Jessica Arky, Ethan’s wife
How cliché is it to nominate your husband? I am sure that many women have nominated their equally deserving husbands as SK’s Living Legend. After thinking and rethinking, I finally decided that I really ought to nominate him.

Ethan Eric Arky is a great man; interested in doing what is right, served in Iraq and Afghanistan, embodies the definition of good work ethic, loving life partner, an avid outdoorsman and a diligent student of the Bible. We are both proud owners of a Stormy Kromer and he lives and exemplifies all the pledges of the certificate of legendary-ness.

He was gifted a Stormy Kromer and in turn gifted a Stormy Kromer to another man. Everywhere we go he acknowledges those with a SK on their dome.

As an Outdoor Recreation Planner by day and avid hunter/hiker/fisherman/camper by weekend – Ethan loves the outdoors.

Ethan lives by Thumper’s rule – he doesn’t say anything if he doesn’t have anything nice to say. He cares about people. He has stopped to help young women change their flat tires, is an incredible role model to our nieces and nephews, has a hard time saying “no” when asked for a favor and volunteered at the local youth center when more volunteers were needed to keep the doors open.

Ethan enlisted pre 9/11 and served in the United States Marine Corps. He isn’t prideful, doesn’t boast about his selfless sacrifice and quite honestly you probably would never know having just met him. He’s old fashioned in that he feels he made the choice to sign up and he is a better man for his time spent in the armed forces.

My Dad is a pretty tough guy to impress, but Ethan has won him over. Ethan takes my Dad’s calls and acts as technical support 1600 miles away so my Dad can figure out his GPS, computer and iPad. When we’re out hiking somewhere beautiful or see wildlife, Ethan will usually chime in with, “Dad would love this.” He loves my Dad, which is so important and endearing to me.

The most important reason he is worthy of the title of ‘Living Legend’ is because he is always true to himself. He’s found himself in an interesting spot professionally. Despite the challenges in his workplace, he proactively goes about his work finding solutions and ways to work around the obstacles to remain productive and he believes that living a hard life now will provide for an easier future.

Ethan is worthy of the title of ‘Living Legend,’ and embodies all the Old School Kromer-ness.

Charity: Freedom Service Dogs of America

Hometown: Battle Mountain, NV