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EAA Volunteers - The Krapfl Family
By Katie Holliday
March 31, 2016 - EAA would be nowhere without its volunteers. From Young Eagles pilots who help garner youth interest in general aviation throughout the year to the thousands of volunteers who make AirVenture possible EAA is lucky to have so many dedicated folks helping out. Even more lucky to have volunteers, like the Krapfl Family, who make an effort to get their families involved to keep the passion for aviation and the love of AirVenture alive through the next generation.
For Mary Krapfl, volunteering with EAA has always been a family affair, beginning in 1976 when her husband, John, earned his private pilot certificate.
“He hung out at airports sharing stories and giving rides to anyone who was looking for a ride in an airplane,” Mary said. “For a number of years he would attend EAA convention for a few days each year, coming home each night excited and exhausted.”
Mary started attending with her husband in 1983 when AirVenture was still known simply as the EAA Fly-In Convention. “I went along and spent every minute of the day with my husband walking from one end of the grounds to the other. I too went home excited and exhausted,” Mary said. “Now I understood! I couldn’t wait to go back the next year. The third year I wanted to get more involved.”
In 1985 Mary started volunteering on the flightline and continued for more than 30 years volunteering in many areas before finally settling in at Main Gate North. Throughout the years, Mary made an effort to get her family involved in volunteering as well including her sons Greg, Jon, and Brian (who is a private pilot) Krapfl, daughters Renee Renderman and Jean Keller, and a host of nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. Courtney Renderman, Mary’s granddaughter, said Mary gets her grandchildren started volunteering fairly early. “She always takes the grandkids when they turn 10,” Courtney said, adding that that’s when she started volunteering at Main Gate North often helping with simple tasks like taking out the garbage and making coffee.
Mary’s grandson Sean Krapfl, who is a private pilot and pursuing a career as an A&P, also started volunteering at a young age when his grandmother saw his love and appreciation for aviation. “When I started working in the building as a youngster, my jobs were pretty limited to sweeping the floors and directing traffic around the building,” he said. “As I got older, I began selling admissions and memberships at the windows. I really loved meeting all the people coming from around the world to celebrate aviation here in Oshkosh.”
In addition to her friends and family who assist and support her at AirVenture, Mary said she has a family in the group of more than 5,000 volunteers that help make AirVenture possible.
At AirVenture 2015 Mary found she was short on volunteers so she turned to her community in Main Gate North for help, and they came through bringing in 52 new volunteers.
“This is wonderful,” Mary said smiling around at a fully staffed admissions counter with guests at every station on the Friday of AirVenture 2015. “I have the greatest family of volunteers at Main Gate North—they are the best!”
Mary, who announced her retirement after AirVenture 2015, said, “It has been an honor and a privilege to be a part of EAA as chairman of Main Gate North.”
Following in her grandmother’s footsteps, for AirVenture 2016 Courtney said she’s excited and happy to be taking on the role of volunteer coordinator. “I’m very excited to continue it in the family,” she said. “I love working with the volunteers and making a connection with the people. It’s the nicest group of people you’ll ever meet. I think with everybody who’s there we have a dedication to volunteering. We always find that we have something in common with each other.”
Main Gate North is just one of many areas in need of volunteers to keep it running and, as Mary said, “There is something at EAA for everyone.”
To learn more about EAA’s volunteer opportunities, please visit our website.