3 min read

MAC Member Profile: Peter Helf

MAC Member Profile: Peter Helf

Name: Peter Helf

Member Since: 1975

Occupation: Past Executive Vice President of Marcus Corporation Restaurant Division and Principal H&K Partners, LLC

Resides in: Whitefish Bay, but grew up in Green Bay

Family: Late wife Holly (59 years married); 4 children Heidi, Robert, Nicole, and Peter;  17 grandchildren, 1 great-grandchild, and one more on the way!

Hobbies: Daily workouts, attending sporting events for grandchildren, golfYoung Peter Helf and Ted Kellner

Favorite Thing About the MAC: Handball and basketball, along with meeting many great people and building friendships. He met great friend and business partner Ted Kellner at the MAC (pictured).

Claim to Fame: Proud and persistent

How He Defines Wellness: “Eat well, exercise, take care of your family, and start your week at Mass.”  

“The MAC becomes a part of your DNA after a while,” starts Peter Helf. He’s been a member for nearly four decades and served as Board president from 1997-1999. We met for coffee in the lounge and exchanged copies of our books. His memoir, “Proud, Poor, Persistent,” was self-published on Amazon last year, although he wrote it mainly for his children and grandchildren. He hopes it will inspire others  to “Fight harder, reach higher, and dream bigger on their journey through life.”

Peter Helf grew up in a family of 10 without a lot of material wealth and had to overcome many seemingly insurmountable obstacles like losing ownership of their home, losing his brother John to Hodgkin's disease when he was in high school and losing his mother unexpectedly to heart attack when she was just 57.  If that’s not enough, his brother Ollie was born partially blind and then died of cancer after he retired. But none of those setbacks ever deterred him. Peter respected his father most for never wavering in his faith and living a good, honest life. His father went to church every day, prayed every day and would always say “We will make it.”  

Peter is filled with hard-earned nuggets of wisdom. Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Life is not a dress rehearsal.
  2. The harder you work, the harder it is to give up.
  3. Life is enduring things that you can’t control.
  4. If you want to have a friend, you first have to be a friend.
  5. There’s no right way to do the wrong thing.
  6. If your vocation matches the likes of your vacation, you'll never have a difficult day at work.
  7. The greatest gift a father can give his child is to love their mother.
  8. You should never regret anything in life. If it’s good, it’s wonderful, if it’s bad, it’s experience.
  9. Education is a privilege, not necessarily a right.
  10. The view from the highest mountaintop is more appreciated when one has experienced the depth and darkness of the deepest valley.
  11. Count your blessings every day and it will help you through life’s challenges.
  12. The best way to teach your children about taxes is to eat a third of their ice cream.
  13. Successful leaders may not be the smartest in the room but instinctively know who is.

He grew up in a large Catholic household, but that’s not to say he didn’t get into any mischief. One story he shares in the book about his childhood in Green Bay is something he calls “Green Bay ingenuity,” and it goes like this:

The week before each Packers home game, Peter and his buddies would find a spot along the wooden fence surrounding the field. A few kids would keep an eye out while the others would dig a hole under the fence. They would stuff it with potato sacks, kick dirt over the sacks and then mark the spot with chalk on the fence post. They would return on game day, move the sacks and crawl under the fence to get into the game for free.

Peter took on work when he was eight years old to help contribute to the family and since, has held of all these jobs: 

  • Serving mass
  • Mowing lawns and raking leaves
  • Newspaper boy
  • Stocking shelves and delivering groceries
  • Babysitter
  • Vendor at Packer games, sweeping the stadium
  • Bartender
  • Painter
  • Tar Roofer
  • Tending ice rinks at the park
  • Laundry maintenance and delivery driver
  • Awning and tent laborer
  • Dump truck driver
  • Asphalt road construction
  • Grader and heavy equipment operator
  • Gandy dancer (railroad)

When he was 18, Peter met his wife, Holly, in Door County and admits it was love at first sight. The couple later realized that they lived only four blocks from each other in Green Bay. Holly and Peter married young and started a family as his business career was getting underway.  He credits his success in business to his passion and ability to outwork everyone. He jokes it’s not because he is the smartest guy in the room. He rose to the ranks of Executive VP of Marcus Corp Restaurant Division and owner/operator of H&K Partners.

What I love most about Peter’s story is that through hard work, determination and a good heart, he has created a beautiful life for himself and his family. 

click here to download the membership guide

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