Darryl Kaminski '77, '81 never could have predicted that his career would take him around the world, but his willingness to take advantage of opportunities, try new things and treat others with respect opened many doors. After graduating from Don Bosco High School on Milwaukee's south side, Darryl joined a softball team and the team manager was an Air Force recruiter. His manager recruited him to the Air Force where he trained to become a medic and briefly served in Vietnam. Upon returning home, he worked as a medical technician at St. Mary's and St. Joe's hospitals.
Mutual friends set him up on a blind date with Patricia, whom he would end up marrying. Patricia was among the first physician assistants in Wisconsin and a female pioneer in the field. A native of Canada, she earned her undergraduate degree in chemistry at the University of Western Ontario and post-graduate courses in biochemistry at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. She attended Duke University as well, the birthplace of the physician assistant profession. When one of her advisors at Duke moved to Milwaukee, she followed him. Ultimately, Patricia worked with Dr. Derward Lepley Jr., who led Wisconsin's first heart transplant surgery team. The team also completed countless coronary bypass and valve replacement procedures, and Patricia was responsible for taking patients' veins, assisting the surgeon and closing patients' chests at the completion of the operation.
After a few years, Darryl left health care to work at Briggs & Stratton. Following a layoff Patricia encouraged him to take advantage of his G.I. Bill and enroll in classes at MSOE. He was called back to work on third shift while earning his associate degree at MSOE. Patricia, ever the academic, also enrolled in a few classes at MSOE. They fondly remember a law class they took with Dr. Roger Frankowski. "Darryl did really well in the class," said Patricia. "I, on the other hand, needed a little extra help. Before the final exam, Dr. Frankowski told me whatever I thought the answer to the question was, to answer just the opposite. It worked! And I passed the exam!"
Darryl next took a position at EZ Paintr as a supervisor and manufacturing paint applicators. He wanted to pursue a career in management so he continued at MSOE to earn his bachelor's degree in industrial management.
"I really liked MSOE," said Darryl. "The faculty treated me as a colleague, not a student-especially Roger Frankowski, Bob Loss and Peter Kuhfittig. MSOE showed how much they cared in 1981 when my father passed away. It was during finals week, and they provided a tutor to help me get through."
Darryl's creative thinking and problem-solving skills helped him advance at EZ Paintr, which later became Shur-Line, a Newell Rubbermaid company. He traveled extensively, visiting plants throughout the U.S., China, Indonesia, Europe and more. As the product manager of brush technology and development, he also oversaw facility acquisitions and closings. As Newell expanded, Darryl was often requested to assist in the development of other divisions including Newell Rubbermaid and Sharpie Pens.
Now retired, the Kaminskis enjoy traveling the world, often visiting Newell Rubbermaid employees with whom Darryl still keeps in contact. "I cared about my colleagues and enjoyed mentoring them. I really bonded with them and that relationship has continued over the years."
The Kaminskis are active in the horse racing industry, and have developed many friendships with fellow horse owners and trainers. Patricia loves spending time in the barns with their horses, while Darryl focuses on handicapping horses for the races. One of their horses, River Place, races at Arlington Park and two will soon go to Churchill Downs. They also enjoy their smaller four-legged friends at home: Olaf and Shiloh, two Keeshond show dogs.
In 2007, the Kaminskis created the Darryl L. Kaminski '81 Endowed Scholarship Fund at MSOE to assist undergraduate juniors and seniors, with preference given to those who have demonstrated financial need and served in the U.S. Military or Peace Corps. "We really enjoy meeting the students we are helping through the scholarship," said Patricia. They have also committed a planned gift to MSOE in their estate plan.
Although Darryl's path to success was far from a straight one, he feels he owes it all to MSOE. "We are pleased that we are now able to give others the same opportunity at MSOE that I found so valuable."
For more information on establishing an endowed scholarship or including MSOE in your estate, contact Jonathan Kowalski, JD at (414) 277-4510 or firstname.lastname@example.org.