The Greater Wausau Region has an impressive number of high-quality, distinctive natural features, great for exploring.
A flotilla of kayaks and other watercraft take to Lake Wausau for a Paddle Pub Crawl each July.
Skiers and snowboarders from around the Midwest flock to Granite Peak each winter to enjoy a variety of runs.
Families can enjoy water slides, a lazy river and more in all seasons at Stoney Creek Lodge in Rothschild.
Fish fries and Fridays go together in the Greater Wausau Region. Find a favorite and start your weekend.
The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum hosts an exhibition each fall focused on flight in nature.
The Gruhn family moved to Wausau from Rockford in 2010 to capitalize on a work opportunity.
Several years ago, Todd and LaNae Johnson were looking for a change. An affordable real estate market was a large factor in moving their dental business north.
The Greater Wausau Region is the place to be for jobs. Great jobs!
Meet Jack and Erin Hoogendyk.
The beginnings of the Hoogendyk family were simple enough.
"We met at a Christian coffeehouse." said Jack. "Erin sang in a band that performed at the coffee house. I thought she was 'real cute,' so we got to know each other during the evening."
"Within a week or so, I asked her out for a date to a concert." added Jack. "We were married a year and a half later in April of 1976."
Erin was employed as a customer service representative at a local bank while Jack worked at a paper mill when the couple were first married. Erin worked at the bank in Kalamazoo, Michigan until the couple's first child was born about a year after they were married. Throughout most of the couple's child-raising years, Erin was a full-time mom. She even spent some of those years educating the five Hoogendyk children at home.
"Not long after that, I found employment in retail sales." said Jack. "That eventually led to a sales opportunity with a firm that sold industrial packaging supplies. Over the years I was able to advance to management, eventually becoming a national sales manager at a Fortune 500 company."
In 1996, Jack left packaging supply company to become the executive director of a 501-c-3 non-profit pregnancy resource center. Jack held that role for nearly seven years before running for and being elected to the Michigan state legislature, serving in the House of Representatives for six years. Michigan has term limits so Jack's time was up after those six years.
Jack wasn't alone in the family in the world of politics. In 2004, Erin was elected to the local township board and served in that capacity for eight years.
In 2013 the Hoogendyks moved from southwest Michigan to Wausau when Jack accepted a position as the executive director of Hope Life Center, a faith-based, non-profit pregnancy resource center.
After the move to Wausau, Erin began to work for Grebe’s Chef’s Center where she sells kitchen items and teaches cooking classes.
"I think her students enjoy her teaching skills, as well as her sense of humor." said Jack.
"For hobbies, we like to do things together." said Erin. "We like to ride our bikes or go kayaking in the beautiful Wisconsin outdoors. We especially like to travel to places where there is a lot of natural beauty." The couple loves the mountains, the lakes and the woods.
"We enjoy places where we can kick back and relax and hike." said Erin.
The family has always been active in their local church, serving in the choir or worship team, as Sunday school teachers, helping in the nursery, serving on the deacon or elder board, or doing whatever else is needed. The Hoogendyks also have a strong commitment to service.
Erin has prepared meals for individuals or larger groups and is currently involved with the Never Forgotten Honor Flight. When the veterans fly out to Washington, Erin plans, coordinates, and helps prepare a luncheon for the spouses who stay behind.
"I am currently on the board of the Chamber of Commerce and the Wisconsin Family Council, a 501-c-3 that advocates for life, family, marriage and religious freedom." said Jack.
"Regarding sports, I am becoming somewhat of a Brewers fan and I greatly enjoy the Packers." said Jack. "As I tell folks often, for over 40 years living in Michigan I rooted for a football team that never went anywhere. The Lions have won exactly one playoff game in the 53 years since the first Super Bowl. Now, I get to be a legitimate fan of one of the greatest football franchises in history!"
Erin and Jack have five children. The couple's two oldest are boys; Jake and Isaiah, followed by a pair of girls; Maria and Caitlin. Finally, some years later, our fifth child, Ben was born. The four oldest are married and Jack and Erin have a total of 12 grandchildren. One of their children lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan; another lives in Georgia; one lives in the Nashville area and two live in Wausau.
Music is a large part of the Hoogendyk family. Erin has a beautiful voice and has sung in choirs or worship teams often. The second and third children in the family are both very talented pianists.
"But all of us love music." said Erin.
The family has one pet; a healthy, sociable but demanding 14-year-old cat named Aslan.
The Hoogendyks live in the Riverview area at the north edge of the city of Wausau. They have lived there since moving to Wausau, settling in a 'nice' neighborhood with a large enough house to accommodate big family gatherings or guests.
"We like the neighborhood because it is quiet, has lots of trees and very friendly people." said Erin. "Our neighbor across the street loves her yard and garden and has made it absolutely beautiful. The guy down the hill is always plowing out the street when it snows and the neighbors always seem ready to offer a hand when it is needed."
"We love the Wausau community." said Jack. "There is a strong sense of mutual respect and friendliness. People we have met throughout the community are friendly and willing to lend a helping hand."
The family's tries to follow The Golden Rule: Remember to put others before yourself and if you need a friend, be a friend.
The family enjoys traveling and Erin and Jack recenlty visited the Netherlands for the first ever 'worldwide Hoogendyk family reunion.' Over 100 family members from far and wide were in attendance.
This article initially appeared in Wausau Neighbors magazine, Best Version Media
Photos by Natalie Helen Photography