Above: Sen. Karpisek enjoys camping and fishing with the family in his spare time.
After graduating from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Sen. Russ Karpisek knew where he wanted to go from there.
He returned to his hometown of Wilber.
“I always did plan on going back,” he said. “I’ve just always been a Wilber kid.”
When he first started college, Karpisek had plans of becoming a veterinarian, but after a few classes he realized it wasn’t for him.
“Chem 109 settled that one right away,” he said with a smile.
He switched to business and said a degree in business administration came in handy when he took over the local meat market his grandmother owned.
Karpisek married a hometown girl. His wife, Jill, was three years behind him in school and the two weren’t even friends. He said while he was home over the weekends during college all that changed.
“We decided we didn’t mind each other so much,” he said, laughing.
The Karpiseks have two children, Tyler and Stephanie, and still enjoy life in Wilber.
“We’re just pretty tight knit,” Karpisek said of the community. “We’re like one big family.”
Wilber’s Czech Days are always a big event. The town of about 1,800 swells to 50,000 with festivities drawing crowds from across the nation. Karpisek plays trumpet in the Wilber-Clatonia Alumni band.
For 12 years, Karpisek served as mayor of Wilber, which taught him a lot about compromise and communicating with people.
“The world would be a lot easier to live in if everyone looked through someone else’s eyes,” he said.
In the Legislature, Karpisek said he’d like to help his colleagues see life through the eyes of small business owners throughout the state.
“I saw first hand how hard it was for a small business to expand,” he said. “We’re always chasing the big companies.”
Although the meat market has its challenges, Karpisek said he enjoys it.
“I get to be around people all the time,” he said.
During time off, Karpisek said he and his family enjoy camping in their fifth wheel trailer.
Camping trips usually involve a little fishing, visiting with friends and a lot of relaxing. After a long day at the Legislature, Karpisek said he sometimes plays video games with his son to wind down.
“It’s nice to just kind of let your brain stop working overtime for a while,” he said.