March 10, 2018 – Washington Co., WI – There are few communities as lucky as Washington County to have a plethora of people dedicated to helping make it a better place. One notable community leader is Roger Kist.
Kist, 81, was a young pup when he moved to Ridge Run Park in November 1967. Originally hired as caretaker of the park, Kist said it “reminded me a lot of when I worked on the farm.” A supervisor at the park, Kist sported a handlebar mustache and eventually became a fixture known as Ranger Roger.
Aside from the parks and Washington County Tourism, Kist has been a familiar face in politics on both the West Bend common council and as a supervisor, elected in April of 2016, to the Washington County Board.
“When I was on the council I was also chairman of the local Republican Party,” said Kist. “I remember Mike Schlotfeldt was elected alderman and he chaired the Democratic Party. When he sat down he looked over at me like the devil had just shown up.”
Kist took his time and built a relationship with the representative from Dist. 6. “When Mike decided not to run again we had a little party and he said to me, ‘Roger you’re the only friend I’ve got.’”
Over the years Kist has made quite a few friends and below are some comments from those he’s met along the way who talk about the impact he’s made in this county.
West Bend Police Chief Ken Meuler: I met Roger before he ever ran for alderperson as he has always been actively involved in the community. He donates his time to a number of community events, and supports almost every community function. Anyone out in the community will see him at Music on Main, Farmer’s Market, church festivals, parades, and numerous fundraisers in the community. During his time as an alderperson he has not been someone that pounds his fists or grandstands, but he always speaks up on issues that are important to him and his constituents. He has called me on a number of police issues to get a better understanding of our policies and practices. He has been a strong supporter of the police throughout his tenure as alderperson. I have always enjoyed working with Roger as an alderperson and appreciate all he has done for the community. More important, I value his friendship.
Washington County Supervisor Marilyn Merten: “Roger has always been a considerate and caring individual and he’s willing to do a good job at whatever he did.” Merten was county clerk and worked with Kist when he was at the Washington County Planning and Parks Department. “I’d contact Roger to help make the grounds look nice at the county building. Roger would always take care of it.”
Leah Baughman at Interfaith Caregivers of Washington County: “Roger Kist is very active and in touch with the West Bend community and knows what is needed to help support its citizens. When asked if he would like to be a part of the Interfaith/RSVP Advisory Council Roger very graciously accepted right away. Even though this venture has just begun he has been an important member that has contributed many great ideas and support.”
Todd Tennies remembered Kist when he worked and lived at Ridge Run Park. “As a little boy I can remember going to Ridge Run Park and riding bikes past the log cabin as we headed to our favorite fishing spot. Roger would always stop and say ‘Hi’ and ask us how the fishing was. He was always friendly and willing to talk to us kids. After his retirement from the county he settled in and served the community through his involvement in city government. He did a great job and always had an interest in what was best for the community. His interest in our county also carried over into the Tourism Committee for Washington County. He did an extraordinary job promoting the Washington County Fair Park as well as all of our wonderful parks we have in this county. Great job Roger.”
Dist. 5 alderman Rich Kasten said Kist is somebody he really admires. “The things he’s accomplished at the county and city and he can still walk down the street and people know him from Ridge Run Park. I wish I could be more like him with his ability to relate to people and between him and his wife the way they’re prepared for every meeting. I’m very lucky I’ve been able to spend time on the council with him.”
Mayor Kraig Sadownikow said serving the community is in Roger’s blood. “Whether it’s an elected position, or in his career or during his time off he’s always been committed to service and giving back to the community.
West Bend City Administrator Jay Shambeau said Kist’s name is relatively synonymous with park land and this community. “To promote the development, use and preserving of parks and the fact he has not wavered in his opinion is really a tribute to him. He’s everywhere. He’s the longstanding West Bend member of the Mid-Moraine Municipal Association and he attends league conferences and the Alliance meetings.”
Former West Bend city clerk Amy Reuteman spent 15 years at City Hall and noted, “Roger Kist has been there forever. And he’s early; you can always count on Roger to be early.”
Thank you Roger Kist for your dedication and service to help make West Bend and Washington County a great community.
On a side note: In 2017 I hosted an evening at Music on Main. It was right before the school year was to get underway and I challenged readers of WashingtonCountyInsider.com to bring their school picture to the event and I’d treat them to a beverage of their choice. Roger Kist was the first attendee to respond. I told him I thought he looked a lot like Dennis the Menace.