Who is he: Sugar Camp retiree Perry Pokrandt, 63, serves as president of Feed Our Rural Kids (FORK), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit volunteer organization created to help meet the basic nutritional needs of food insecure students in the Northland Pines and Phelps school districts. A credit card processing services salesman prior to his retirement, Pokrandt has been active in the Eagle River community over the years as the founder of Klondike Days, a popular local winter festival that ended its 25-year run in 2015. He was also among those involved in the launches of the Eagle River Jaycees and the Eagle River Downtown Business Association.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job: The most enjoyable aspect of my job is coming to a meeting of the minds with other individuals in the community who feel the same passion. You don’t always run into that, but when you do you can join in a common cause and together you can make a difference.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job: Food insecurity is one of the most misunderstood concepts in America. Dealing with those misconceptions and pushing past them to get people to understand that individuals who are affected by the inability to provide a reliable source of food for their family are not there necessarily because of the choices they’ve made but because of how life has dealt them their cards. Bringing that kind of information to the community so that they can feel the compassion of “There but for the grace of God go I.”

What did you want to be when you grew up: I grew up in a family business, which brought me up here — DeByle’s, a men’s and women’s clothing store. All I ever wanted to do was run my grandfather’s business. After 13 years of running one of my grandfather’s businesses here in Eagle River, I decided I’d had enough family. You can quote me on that.?That is not all it’s cracked up to be.

First job: My first job was actually for my family. I worked as a greeter at Christmas. I opened the door for people and said, “Merry Christmas.” I was ten years old and the automatic closer on the door broke, so they needed someone there to open and close the door. My dad enlisted me and paid me a quarter an hour — and I’m not that old. Robber baron!

First car: A 1972 Mercury Cougar. It was baby blue and it was beautiful.

First concert: The Marshall Tucker Band at UW-Whitewater.

What’s your favorite smell: Cut grass from the greens on a golf course in the morning, just after they’ve taken the dew off the greens.

If you could pick a day to relive over and over “Groundhog Day” style, what day would it be and why: I’d say that the key day in my life, the day that truly probably changed the trajectory of my life, was the birth of my first child. Not that I wouldn’t want to relive the birth of my second child, but it was such a revelation of the understanding of what love actually is in that moment — unlike anything I’ve experienced any other time.

If you could have any one superhero super power, which would you choose: The ability to hear people. I know that’s not Superman or the Hulk or any of those things. I wish I had a superpower of being able to be a better listener and be able to hear what people are saying in their words. I know that’s not something of comic book lore, but it’s one thing I wish I was better at.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you: I’m shy. I am desperately, desperately shy. People wouldn’t generally feel that, but I am humbly introverted.

What would you do with $1 million: Probably not be as good a person as I’d like to be. I’ll just leave it at that.

What songs are included in the soundtrack of your life: “Maybe I’m Amazed” off of Paul McCartney’s first solo album fifty years ago. That, I thought, was literally his best. The first album I bought was the Beach Boys, and the song I literally wore out was “Good Vibrations.” And I’ll add to that Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy.”

Three favorite go-to refrigerator staples you’re never without: I love Trig’s beef sticks. You can’t be a guy without saying beer. And I love having orange juice in the refrigerator for when I’m thirsty. Sometimes water doesn’t cut it, and since my wife doesn’t like it I drink it right from the refrigerator.

If I had two weeks away from it all I’d: It’s an interesting question, because when I retired I got involved and started FORK because I found that doing nothing was too much work. I think that you have to be able to find joy in where you are in the moment that you are in or you’re not living in those moments.?I don’t have anywhere I need to go or need to be.

What is your biggest pet peeve: We live in a very divisive world. People who don’t listen to each other, people who stand on stupidity. I’m not saying because they disagree with me that they’re stupid, but simply because they won’t engage in the process of talking to each other.?That’s my deepest hurt frankly.

What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received: It came from my grandfather, Murly DeByle. He used to say, “Ya dance with thems that brung ya.” He didn’t talk like that normally, but that is what he used to say, which is all about remembering how you got to where you got. Nobody succeeds on their own and sometimes we fail to give credit to those who helped us. And not to forget. That was his guidance.

All-time favorite movie: “Star Wars,” the first one (1977). It was like being transported truly into the future.?That type of a movie had never been done with that type of animation. It was the ultimate adventure.

What’s one favorite song that you’ve completely memorized the lyrics to: “I Can See Clearly Now” — the 1970s version by Johnny Nash.

What’s your favorite saying or motto: As my kids will tell you, I?overwhelm them with sage advice. My favorite thing is whatever point I’m trying to make in the moment.

Favorite current TV show: “This Is Us.”

What’s the last show you’ve binge-watched: I just finished binge-watching 80-plus episodes of a show called “Reign,” which was on The CW in the mid-teens. I watched like 65 hours of TV in 2-1/2 weeks. I literally couldn’t stop watching. It was like “Dynasty” back in the 80s, only people were wearing swords.

Favorite childhood TV show: “The Andy Griffith Show.” I was Opie’s age and it was interesting. I’ve watched each episode maybe six times over 60 years. 

If you could invite any three people, past or present, to a dinner party, who would be on the guest list: There’s got to be two different dinners. I’d start with my mom. I?lost my mom a year ago on Valentine’s Day. And I’d like a dinner with Abraham Lincoln. I’d be really interested to see if Lincoln is really as profound as his legacy or if he’s as human as the rest of us. 

A magic genie gives you three wishes. What are they: Truly an end to COVID and its threat to our way of life. I hate thinking that I’ve worked my whole life to end up living the rest of it marginally in fear. I really would wish that as my kids continue to get older that they are happy — they’re happy now and I hope they stay that way. And I’d hope that of all the things that I’ve done in this community that FORK has legs, that is something that will make a difference and that difference will be seen as important by more than just the people that benefit from it, that it will be seen by the people in the community as changing our world — not THE world, but this little piece of it.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure: Naps. And I do feel guilty about them, but a good afternoon nap is oddly sometimes the highlight of the day. I’ve heard in Mexico they take this siesta in the middle of the afternoon. I understand why now.

If your life was a movie, what would it be called: I don’t think that that’s set yet. I think that all our lives should be defined by the reckoning. In the end we all have to account for what we do every day. 

What’s at the top of your “bucket list”: It’s a big reach, but I’d love to go to Tibet and hike the Himalayas. 

If you could have one “do over” in your life, what would you do differently: The good, the bad, have all brought me here. I don’t think that it’d be wise to change anything.

Who would play you in a movie about your life: It would have to be Steve Martin. For whatever reason I get, “Do you know you look like Steve Martin?” And I go, “I do not look like Steve Martin.” He’d have to be it, at least for the old part of my life. I’d like to say Brad Pitt, but I don’t think that would be very accurate.

What’s your favorite way to unwind after a busy day: Truly, feet up on the deck — summer, fall, early spring — looking out at the lake, taking that time to recalculate.

Most hated household chore: Anything that keeps me from doing what I’d rather be doing.

Are you a morning person or night owl: I’ve never gotten up early and regretted it. There’s never been a sunrise I’ve seen that hasn’t been worth the effort.

What’s your mainspring: Trying to live up to the expectations of my kids — to be able to do things that they’ll talk about, that they’ll be proud of.?They inspire me every day to go out and try to make a difference, as they make a difference in their lives.

What is your favorite place to go in the North Woods: There’s a spot in the Porkies, probably a two, three mile hike up and down, across, that’s just a spot that I feel close to God. It’s just peaceful there. Whenever I’m there I literally stop and I take a breath. In that minute, it’s kind of like a recounting minute, a regrouping minute.