I had the pleasure of meeting with Brian K. Veerkamp, El Dorado County District 3 Supervisor and Marshall Foundation Board Member. As a transplant from the Bay Area, I was delighted to learn about this iconic man.
Brian’s background is impressive; 32 years in fire service from volunteer to District Fire Chief, 14 years as an elected board member with the Camino Union School District, eight of those years as board president. The list goes on, including 17 years of service with Rotary, 6 years with Kiwanis, and his years of leadership on the Board of Trustees of Marshall Foundation.
Brian has a refreshing sensibility that felt like a contradiction to the size and scope of the challenges he’s been tackling head-on for years. He defines himself as simple, and takes a pragmatic approach to solving large issues in our community. I found him to be anything but simple. Here’s more from our conversation:
Q. You have a strong family legacy in the community, how did it start?
A. I’m a fifth generation descendant from the pioneering Veerkamp and Wagner families dating back to 1852. They were ranchers, and also mined hard rock until they lost the vein. The families eventually sold their land, and some of it is now managed by the American River Conservancy. My grandfather, George Wagner, lived to be 101 and is written about in a book called “I Remember” and we share his stories along with a video of his memories to our children and grandchildren and my grandson is named after the Wagner family.
Q. How did you get involved with Marshall Foundation?
A. Executive Director, Karen Good, asked me if I would be interested in being on the Marshall Foundation board. I’ve always been involved in the hospital and the community in one way or another, so becoming a board member was a natural step.
Q. Where does your heart for service come from?
A. I’ve always believed that you must create something, or it will be created for you. Instead of sitting back and complaining about how things are being done, get involved and do something about it. I even encourage those who do not agree with my decisions as Supervisor to get involved.
Q. How did you meet your wife, Lori?
A. Lori and I met in high school, but she did not want much to do with me, due to my immaturity. A few years later when I was in college and had matured, we bumped into each other at a mutual friends and the rest is history. Lori is my rock. We both love hunting and fishing, and I love that she’s not afraid of anything. Last year, she was awarded the Helping Hands Award for her work and service to the community from the Foundation.
Q. What is your biggest goal for the community and how can this be achieved?
A. Good governance. We live in a beautiful rural community with high tourism and recreation, so preserving and advancing support needed for schools, fire and police and other services is difficult. The state has limited funding, and we need good governance so that we can maintain public safety while being responsible stewards of tax-payer’s dollars. It’s a bit like triage in trying to figure out the best solutions for the most amount of people.
A. What do you like to do in your spare time?
Q. Lori and I enjoy golfing and recreational activities like hunting and fishing in Montana and Idaho. When we’re outdoors, it’s a spiritual moment and what life is intended to be. I also do Kiwanis wheelbarrow racing at the county fair. It started with the 911 Challenge. It’s a major fundraising event that goes back into the community some 73 years. I started in my early 30’s and have competed for 28 years. I work out three to four times a week and do heavy training leading up to the race. I’ve placed in the top four 26 out of the 28 years competing with 9 outright wins. I’m considering going for my 20th combined win as long as they don’t consider me an “Old Timer”.
Brian prioritizes health, family and faith as most important. He believes service above self and asks himself “Is it the right thing to do?” I wasn’t surprised to hear that Brian and Lori are traveling with their family to Scotland later this month to represent our area at the World Gold Panning Championships. How lucky are we to have such an amazing ambassador!
The visionary leaders of Marshall Foundation have provided assistance for the pressing healthcare needs of the community for over 43 years. Check out the website at Marshall Foundation, and join the conversation on our Facebook page. Your support stays local, and serves those on the Western Slope of El Dorado County.