Remembering Chuck Kajer

By: 
Patrick Fisher, The New Prague Times

As many of you know, The New Prague Times’ editor, Chuck Kajer, died unexpectedly last week. Chuck was at The Times for nine years and then left to work for Sun Newspapers in the Twin Cities metro area. Chuck eventually came back and he and I worked together for about 17 years. Our first meeting was before he came back to The Times. It was just before I came to work for the paper. I had had a job interview with The Times’ publisher Chuck Wann and a few days later I had an interview at Sun Newspapers. It was there I met Chuck and he was surprised that I had just interviewed at The Times.

In the 17 years we worked together the two of us gathered the news and photos that went into The New Prague Times each week. It was only at large events, such as Dozinky, the community’s Czech harvest festival, that we would both be covering it. There was one Dozinky a few years ago, at the end of a long warm day we were both at the office downloading photos. I leaned back in my chair and closed my eyes for a moment. Suddenly I heard Chuck burst out laughing. At my surprised What? he said that we had both nodded off briefly.

Chuck was a good man in many ways. As a former English teacher, he challenged me at times to expand my writing ability. One time he told me he didn't want to see the word item in my articles for two weeks as he thought I was overusing it. I did it, often looking up synonyms for that word. That lesson stuck and I've kept it in mind with other words.

He also had an incredible mind for sports and local history. He would point out places where a grandparent or uncle had lived. Other times he would note how some building had been a grocery store or bar or where a burger place had been along Main Street or when there had been a car lot in the downtown of New Prague.

Sports had been one of his passions, especially basketball. He mentioned how he had been a coach for a brief time when he had been a teacher. His passion for sports continued in his covering it for The Times. If there was a home game, he would likely be there, ready to take some photos and then working hard to get quotes from the coach.

While he took his job seriously, Chuck also remembered you needed a sense of humor. Often this took the form of puns. More than once he and I would get into a little pun battle. Some we would chuckle over, others got good natured groans.

He also loved his family and lived to see his first grandchild. Like any proud grandpa he would show off photos or videos of his granddaughter. Above his desk is a recent photo of his granddaughter enjoying a bounce house at Barten Pumpkins.

Rest well Chuck, you are missed in many ways.

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