Sunday, May 06, 2018

Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport (KRHI) director Jim Brauer retires after 28 years

RHINELANDER - A new face will take over the role of Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport director Sunday. However, not before the community said goodbye to the man who created a legacy in the position for more than two decades.

Joe Brauer didn't hesitate to take the chance to make major changes for Rhinelander.

"Bob Heck came to me and said 'Mr. Brauer how would you like to become airport director now?' [It] took me ten seconds to say you got your man," said Brauer.

Brauer became the man with one of his biggest changes. He brought disabled passenger lifts to the airport.

"We're the airport that cares," said Brauer. 

This weekend after 28 years as director, a new face to the city but a familiar face to Brauer, will take over the wings. 

"I was the resident airport kid. I used to ride my bicycle out there and beg, plead or do odd jobs for flight instructions. Joe was a mentor of sorts," said Rhinelander- Oneida County Airport Director Matther Leitner.

Leitner takes over Brauer's job Sunday. However, he said he has no anxiety.

"I would say fortunate," said Leitner.

Leitner believes he learned from the best since he was a child.

"He's always been a consummate professional. He taught me how to maintain my composure well, when things weren't going so well," said Leitner. 

Leitner will use everything he learned since his days of shadowing Brauer, to make a new path of his own. 

"We go way back and I look forward to continuing his legacy," said Brauer. 

That gave Brauer some comfort when he said his final goodbyes.

"I can go out knowing we left some really great things behind for the city of Rhinelander," said Brauer.

Brauer worked in the airline business for 20 years before he became director. After retirement he said he looks forward to spending more time with his family and traveling.

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