- Sue Leamy Kies
Happy Trails and Many Thanks to PCA Trail Blazer Ric Genthe
When it came to the inception of Rountree Branch Trail, Ric Genthe was in the room and the stream where it happened. A long standing member of the Marketing and Membership Committee and president of the PCA Board for two terms, Ric initially met with former neighbor Doc Canny to discuss trail plans in the 1990s. Now, after a longstanding PCA volunteer career, he has decided to step back.
Ric’s Rountree Branch memories and trail contributions are many.
“I clearly remember Doc [Canny] once said he would like to connect the east side of Platteville to the west side to provide outdoor recreational activities for the families,” Ric said of one of their first meetings. “During those times of brain-storming, I would take rough notes and sketch rough ideas that Doc was sharing with my dad and me.” Ric’s dad, Frank Genthe, often shared beers and coffee with Doc. When Frank mentioned that his son’s background in advertising and marketing might be of help when it came to Doc’s ideas, a partnership was born. Discussions were casual and took place over a cold beer or while trout fishing in the area.
The original plans included not only a trail and revitalizing the trout stream, but also a lake and campground at the quarry just east of the old glue factory on the eastern edge of Platteville. Ric’s task was to compile his drawings and Doc’s plans based on their discussions to present to the Platteville City Council to get the support needed to bring the project to fruition. Ric said the council had a few concerns at first. But those didn’t last, and “the city came together to plan, build, and maintain the trail for now and years coming.”
Ric is a born and raised Plattevillian. The same is true of his dad, Frank, who served on the Platteville Police Force for many years. As a kid, Frank often frequented the best swimming hole on the Branch: the spot where the train crossed the stream coming from Belmont. It was eight feet deep and held large brown trout. He introduced Ric to the perks of the stream at a young age, and thus preserving this sanctuary using Doc Canny’s ideas became important to them both.
When Ric graduated high school, he moved to Madison for school. He has lived in the Madison area and Brodhead ever since. He says that not living in Platteville when he was serving as PCA President put him at a disadvantage as he was not able “to meet with the citizens of Platteville and hear directly from them what they thought about the PCA.” He relied heavily on his “right-hand man” Gene Weber. “Every time I left Brodhead or Madison to drive to Platteville for a board meeting, there was a 90-minute phone conversation to discuss the agenda for the up-coming meeting.”
For the past 50 years Ric’s professional occupations have included illustrator, graphic designer, art director, creative director and photo director. Notice a pattern? Ric’s mother Madge used to say that he was “born with a pencil in his hand.” She would give him an old roll of wallpaper and he would draw on the back side for hours on end. He continues to do graphic design for clients and his “eyes are always scanning for a possible photo waiting to be captured.” To get a glimpse of Ric’s view of the world in his fantastic photos, visit: https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/ric-genthe/shop
PCA has been fortunate to have Ric’s innovative thinking and creativity on board from the beginning: first as promoter, then as board and committee member, and finally as creative director. The first annual PCA photo contest and calendar was Ric’s brainchild. He designed posters for its promotion and created the final stunning product. He says he will continue to oversee that project in the future if PCA desires. Need he ask?
Ric began his life-long favorite hobby at the age of 10 or 11. His dad took him trout fishing on a little stream called Crow Branch in Grant County near his mother’s family home in Livingston. It’s been his freetime passion ever since. Confessing to not liking reading in school, Ric says he’s developed an avid interest in American history. He enjoys getting up early with his coffee and indulging in a couple hours of reading before the action of the day begins.
Ric’s family includes his wife Sharon, as well as his son Brandon, who has two sons and is serving in the Air Force. Sharon’s son Nick lives in Pewaukee and has a son and a daughter. Ric and Sharon left Madison for her home town of Brodhead to refurbish a brick colonial Georgian home and experience a slower pace of life. But, they missed what Madison had to offer and moved back in 2013.
Upon reflection, Ric says that he enjoys connecting with the community where he was born and raised and that he is happy that his skills could “help PCA grow.” Putting a spin on the famous JFK quote, he says, “The community does not make the citizens. The citizens make the community.”
Even though he’s stepping back, he maintains hopes and dreams for the future of Platteville and the community. He envisions “a path that would encircle the whole city, one complete loop where you would experience the full environment of the city and country rolled into one.”
Thanks for all you’ve done for PCA, Ric. Your heart and spirit will be forever felt on the trail!