KAUKAUNA — When Brian Roebke was a student at Kaukauna High School, he applied numerous times to be on the school newspaper staff but was never selected. Interestingly, he has spent the last 30 years working in the publishing field. He started at The Kaukauna Times, a weekly newspaper, as a sports editor and, in time, was promoted to editor. He is now also editor of The Wrightstown Area Spirit.
Born and raised in Kaukauna, Roebke didn’t take the standard career path. “I went to college at Northern Michigan University for accounting. That didn’t last long. I switched majors and got my degree in business education. I taught business for three and a half years, a half-year at Appleton West High School as a long-term sub and then three years at Mishicot High School.”
His interest in publishing was revived when he was assigned as the yearbook advisor at Mishicot. “I really liked that,” he recalled. “I found out that I didn’t like dealing with the kids during the day — I liked after-school more. I like preparing lessons and doing the yearbook. That was more my personality, to be behind the scenes as opposed to being in the front of the class.”
Roebke left teaching and started a graphic design business. When that didn’t succeed, he took a job in customer service at a major publishing company in the area. Then, on June 1, 1991, he started working for The Kaukauna Times.
“If I could look back and tell the 18-year-old Brian that someday I would be the editor of a newspaper, I’d say ‘no way.’ The work is kind of 24/7, but I wouldn’t trade my life with anyone.”Brian Roebke
Anyone who has played a sport at any Heart of the Valley High School in the last three decades probably knows Roebke since he’s covered so many sporting events through the years. The newspapers serve Little Chute, Kaukauna, Kimberly, Wrightstown and, to some degree, the Freedom area.
Roebke is the volunteer director of basketball operations for Kaukauna boys’ basketball (Kaukauna Boys’ Hoops Club). “It’s like the booster club for Kaukauna basketball. I do a lot of things to support Kaukauna basketball including creating their game program for every game,” he said.
In addition, Roebke is the vice president of the Kaukauna Alumni Association. “We believe it’s the oldest alumni high school association in the United States,” he said. “We have more than 10,000 living members. I’m the editor of the alumni news which comes out once a year.”
When asked how his Catholic faith plays out in his daily life, Roebke had an immediate answer: “It’s treating people right.”
Part of treating people right is treating them with respect and covering the positive goings-on in their lives, he said, not only sports but births, weddings, board meetings and community events. “Our paper has always been known for focusing on the positive. I don’t have a scanner. I’m not listening for the crashes. We aren’t ambulance chasers. We’re not chasing the courts,” he said.
As much as Roebke enjoys his career, the most rewarding thing for him is volunteering, particularly at his parish. For a long time, he was an usher at St. John’s, but about 10 years ago he was asked to take care of the technology booth at the 8 a.m. Sunday Mass. He controls putting up the worship aids — such as the readings and song lyrics — that are projected onto a screen behind the altar. “I do love doing the church thing. It makes me feel more attached to the Mass,” he said.
The best part for Roebke, in both his career and volunteerism, is the people. “It’s knowing people and building relationships for the last 59 years. It’s nice knowing a lot of people. I’ve interviewed a lot of people, I’ve taken a lot of people’s pictures, I interact with a lot of people,” said Roebke.
“If I could look back and tell the 18-year-old Brian that someday I would be the editor of a newspaper, I’d say ‘no way.’ The work is kind of 24/7, but I wouldn’t trade my life with anyone.”
Your Catholic Neighbor:
Name: Brian Roebke
Parish: St. John Nepomucene, Little Chute
Favorite Saint: St. Peter
Words to live by: “Always take the high road.”