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Volunteer Spotlight: Carpenters Gordon Haggard, James Cobb, And Bob Kunkel

From left, volunteering in the carpentry shop are Gordon Haggard, Bob Kunkel and James Cobb.

In the past, volunteer carpenter Gordon Haggard would arrive before AirVenture Oshkosh along with his wife, Louise, from Wauchula, Florida. He would hammer, cut, and drill to prepare for the convention and she would volunteer in the EAA Wearhouse. But with his wife's death, this year Haggard's brother-in-law, James Cobb, of Claremore, Oklahoma, and friend Bob Kunkel, of Middleton, Wisconsin, have joined him. The three are helping out with maintenance in the carpentry shop.

While he enjoys the planes, Haggard says he really comes for the people. Cobb agrees. "People who fly … are the most fun people to be around," he said.

Coming to Oshkosh is almost like going to a family reunion. "I have so many friends who are like an extended family," Haggard said. "And each has so much talent to share."

Kunkel is one of those friends. "A lot of what we do is maintenance or preventive maintenance," he said. "There is a huge number of buildings on the grounds, and a huge number that need repairs when weather gets to them."

Plus, the group does new construction like building a new interview room at the Communications Center, or helping to renovate shower buildings. While most of their work must be done before the convention begins, it's not unusual for volunteers to take on a different role once preparations are complete.

"Usually when I'm done working here, my wife and I would work in the homebuilders gift shop," Haggard said. And Kunkel's wife, Carrol, helps at Membership Services.

But Kunkel thinks he has the most fun convention job-hosting government officials. In the past that has included governors, congressmen, even Russian officials and astronaut Jim Lovell and his wife, Marilyn.

"The highlight of my volunteering has to be hosting Jim Lovell," he said. "Jim is a great storyteller. But I spent a lot of time talking to his wife after I would drop him off to speak. I even took her shopping …"


FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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