Family and Coworkers Remember Late TSS Director’s Passion, Honesty


Juan Páez

Gary Kalbfleisch had two rules for life: Always be honest and no surprises.

The longtime TSS Director had worked for SCC since 1990, starting out as a classroom technician at SCC’s Northshore branch. Kalbfleisch, 55, died Jan. 15 after a long struggle with cancer.

The Professional
Brandon and Nicole Kalbfleisch, two of Kalbflesich’s children, were witnesses to their dad’s trek through the hierarchy at SCC, which eventually led to him becoming TSS Director.

“[He] worked his way up the ranks through hard work and dedication,” Brandon said. “Sometimes he’d drive to campus in the middle of the night because he remembered something needed fixing.”

Acting TSS Director Gavin Smith, who was hired by Gary and worked with him for 16 years, corroborated Gary’s passionate outlook toward his work.

“[Gary] was very committed to this job, both the technical and physical aspect,” Smith said. “It wasn’t beyond him to put on a hard hat and get to walk through the dust and fix a connection, for example.”

Moreover, Smith said, Kalbfleisch was like a father to the TSS office staff.

“TSS is a lot like a family. We are really missing him. Every time I see an email from him … I get that little reminder that I won’t get to talk to him again,” Smith said. “I think that happens to all of us.”

According to Smith, a number of aspects that people take for granted at SCC can be credited to Kalbfleisch.

Smith explained that Kalbfleisch took the campus out of the 1980s into modern fiber optic technology that connected the campus not only to the outside world, but also completely changed intercampus communications.

“When I look around, it’s all the legacy of what he built,” Smith said.

According to Nicole, Kalbflesich cared deeply for the college.

“Even on the day he died, he kept asking the hospital staff when he would be able to go back to work,” she said. “He wanted to work at SCC until the day he died.”

More to Life
According to his children, behind the strong, no-nonsense outlook that he maintained, Kalbflesich was a man who was very passionate for his life, job, family and animals, including his pet cats and chickens.

“He spoke chicken,” Nicole said. “He’d cluck at the chickens, and they listened.”

Toward the end of his life, Kalbfleisch decided to make every second with Brandon and Nicole count.

“I put a new engine in his Jeep, and it was a big project. It was a good bonding experience … he really wanted to make that time count,” Brandon said. “He wasn’t the most affectionate towards other people, but he cared a lot. Not once did he not care.”

On how Kalbfleisch would like to be remembered, Brandon said his father had a bumper sticker on his car that read “Jesus Loves Me. Everyone Else Thinks I’m an Asshole.”

“You take that how you want it,” Brandon Kalbfleisch said.