Board of Directors
Bob Welke, President
Hometown: Baraboo, Wisconsin
Bob has been a member of the R&GN Preservation Society since 1990, but his history with the R&GN goes back to the last years of operation under Sandley Light Railway Equipment Works management. From the late 1970s until the railway closed he was a weekend relief engineer and, as such, he is a big advocate of the return of 128 to operation again today. Bob is a retired professional railroader, having worked as a brakeman, conductor, engineer, operating officer, dispatcher, training officer, and manager of train operations for the Milwaukee Road and the Wisconsin and Southern. He was also the operating officer in charge of the Great Circus Train from 1997-2003, and Circus World trainmaster in 2002-03. Since 1969 Bob has also been a member of the Mid-Continent Railway Museum where he held several positions including two terms on the board of directors. For eleven years he was Superintendent of Operations. With his experience as a professional railroader, past employee and volunteer at the R&GN and the Mid-Continent Railway Museum, Bob brings valuable leadership to the R&GN Preservation Society. And, he's an avid HO scale model railroader.
Keith Huebner, Vice President
Hometown: Portage, Wisconsin
Keith has been a member of the R&GN since 2008. As a Signal Technician for CP Rail, Keith brings valuable railroad expertise to the R&GN. For over ten years he has installed and maintained the crossing signals and wayside signals. As Trackmaster he’s worked on and organized crews for track projects ranging from simple crosstie replacement to building whole turnouts. Rockdale Siding was a major track project completed under Keith’s direction in 2019. Keith also heads up the “buy-a-tie” fundraiser, helps out as conductor, and does grounds maintenance, general cleanup, and just about anything else that needs attention.
Mary Simerson, Treasurer
Hometown: Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Mary has been a member of the R&GN since 1997. Before retiring and moving to Wisconsin Dells in 2002, for over 30 years she was an executive secretary and office manager. She has previously served the R&GN on the board of directors as both secretary and treasurer. Mary does much other behind-the-scenes volunteering at the R&GN, most notably putting in many hours managing the gift shop
Eric Chockley - General Manager
Hometown: Stronghurst, Illinois
Eric has been a member of the R&GN since 2013 and has been on the board of directors since September 2019 when he was elected to fill a vacated seat and when he was re-elected for a full term at the annual R&GN Preservation Society member meeting in September 2020. At its October 3, 2020 meeting the board of directors appointed Eric as General Manager of the railway. Spending summers at the R&GN in his RV in Volunteer Village, Eric is able to spend hundreds of hours helping out in a variety of ways by being an engineer, working in the locomotive shop, helping in the gift shop, and greeting passengers who come to ride the train. The experience Eric brings to the R&GN includes having earned an Associates Degree in Diesel Technology, being a truck mechanic for five years, and then a railroad machinist and locomotive engineer for the Burlington Northern for 25 years. He is also a member and steam locomotive engineer at Midwest Central Steam Railroad in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Eric was the Mayor of his hometown of Stronghurst, Illinois from 2000-2012 where he helped with grants and improvements.
Hometown: Lyndon Station, Wisconsin
Jim has been a member of the R&GN since 1990. As a youngster, Jim would wander up to Elmer Sandley's cottage at Camp to have lunch with Elmer. In 1979 the Sandleys hired him on as an engineer for the year. As a member of the R&GN Jim has been both president and secretary of the board of directors. Jim has helped run the Iron Horse Café, been head of the Safety Committee, been a member of the Bylaws and Policy Committee and Nominations Committee, been the liaison to the Dells Live Steamers, and has spent countless hours maintaining the property. Jim is the board’s connection to the Sandley era of the R&GN. The first-hand stories he can tell from the past give valuable insight into the decisions the board makes today.
Hometown: Savanna, Illinois
Steve has been a member of the R&GN since 2007 and has served on the board as president, secretary, general manager, and volunteer coordinator. With experience as a paramedic, he currently serves effectively as chair of the safety committee. Steve’s at the R&GN nearly every weekend during the operating season often busy with engineer or conductor duties or helping on the track and grounds crew.
Hometown: Wonder Lake, Illinois
Eric has been a member of the R&GN since 2005. For just as long he’s been a member of the Dells Lives Steamers club, which he currently serves as president. He’s been on the board of directors since 2018, serving as Vice President for the 2018-2019 term. Eric is here most weekends helping with a variety of projects. He built air brake cylinders, assisted in replacing the walkway by the shops, helped with building Rockdale Siding, and is helping with the restoration of 128. Eric has helped with and is ready to help out with just about any maintenance or painting project as the need arises.
Kristine Fitzpatrick, Secretary
Hometown: Crystal Lake, Illinois
Kristine has been a member of the R&GN since 2015 and a member of the board of directors since June 2020. She volunteers in the Iron Horse Café and with experience in business management and sales - president of a 501(c)(3) organization and small business owner and treasurer - she brings many ideas for boosting sales. Her hobbies include gardening, sports (especially high adrenaline sports), and crafting.
Hometown: Sheboygan, Wisconsin
Jim has been a member of the R&GN since 2018. Active in the live steam railroading hobby for over 20 years, he was a member of the Milwaukee Light Engineering Society and a member on the board of directors of the Indiana Live Steamers. His former experience as an editor at Kalmbach Media’s Trains.com is helpful for his role as the administrator of the R&GN’s Facebook page, editor of Trackside, and chair of the advertising and promotions committee. In 2020 he also served as treasurer of the board of directors and organizer of the 2018 washouts repairs. He especially enjoys the duties of steam engineer and conductor but also likes helping out wherever needed for maintenance and track work. Jim’s full-time job is a Lutheran pastor with training in assisting congregations to sharpen their mission and vision focus.