Frank Guske Jr. stays busy helping the residents of Walworth County
Frank Guske Jr.
Community: Lake Geneva
Family: Wife Terri; children John, Maggie and Thomas.
Job: Helps run the family businesses, which include an auto repair center and tow service in Chicago and a bowling alley in Lake Geneva.
Favorite local spot: The Moelter Foundation—240 acres of preserved land with ponds, watershed and springs. "Our plan is to make it accessible to teach people about ecology and conservation."
LAKE GENEVA Frank Guske Jr. never sits still.
There are the family businesses, which keep the 49-year-old Lake Geneva man bouncing between an auto repair center and tow business in Chicago and his bowling alley in Lake Geneva.
Then there's the WC Food Pantry in Lake Geneva. Guske has played a significant role in keeping it staffed and stocked since it opened in 2009, quickly becoming one of the most efficient pantries in Wisconsin.
Oh, and when his hands aren't full with that, he's a Scoutmaster, teaching several Walworth County children about responsibility and life in the outdoors.
"All I can say is I never do anything I don't want to do," Guske said. "I love doing everything I'm involved in. I'm not the kind of person that can sit back."
Guske made local headlines last year after rescuing a 23-year-old man from a burning car on the Edens Expressway in Skokie, Ill.
He used his hands to unbolt a guardrail and smash the window of the car. He then gathered others to help flag down semitrailer trucks, knowing that they all keep small fire extinguishers in their cabs.
Once he slowed the fire, he reached in and pulled out the victim, carrying him up a hill after noticing a small can of gasoline on the passenger's seat.
"I was put there for a reason," Guske said. "He was probably 30 seconds from being dead."
The village of Skokie honored Guske with the Citizen Lifesaving Award.
Guske, a Scoutmaster for 10 years, also received the Honor Medal with Crossed Palms from the Boy Scouts of America for risking his own life to save another. Only 231 have been awarded in 87 years, according to the organization's website.
Guske said the victim's mother contacted him, thanking him for saving her son's life. He said the victim continues to make several hospital visits, but he hopes to meet him again someday.
"You can't let somebody die," Guske said. "Not if you can help it."
The food pantry in Lake Geneva has flourished, despite an economic climate that's resulted in fewer charitable donations across the nation, Guske said.
WC Food Pantry serves about 12,000 customers each year and distributed nearly 800,000 pounds of food in 2010. The pantry was so successful that national hunger-relief organization Feeding America is looking at it as a model to help others flourish, Guske said.
That's exactly how WC Food Pantry got its start. Guske said his business partner visited the top five food pantries in the state to understand what makes them tick.
Guske also oversees the Moelter Foundation—a 240-acre parcel of land that's been preserved since the 1940s. It's often used for field trips to teach students about ecology and preservation.
He hopes to build a gazebo there so handicapped and elderly visitors can fish in the water. About five acres was set aside so an American Indian group could build a sweat lodge and other structures to teach their children about their heritage.
"We have an opportunity to give back," Guske said. "My mom always said you can be somebody who gives help or be somebody who needs it. … I get more of a buzz out of helping other people."
Guske's wife, Terri, is the same way. She spends a lot of her time tutoring high school kids in various subjects.
She said their church mostly is responsible for their give-first attitude. It's helped Frank become the kind of person those in need can count on.
"People know that if they need something, they can call him," Terri said. "No matter what they need, he'll be there."