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By Trudy Herbst / Thursday, March 2, 2017 10:01 am
History of Palmer Johnson
Hulls 296 & 297 Palmer Johnson Boatworks

The Door County Historical Society will host a winter luncheon and presentations about the “History of Palmer Johnson” on Saturday, March 18. The lunch and programs is a benefit for the Society’s newly established endowment fund and will be at Stone Harbor Resort beginning at 11:00am.

Presenter Mike Kelsey Jr. spent his entire life in the Palmer Johnson boatyard that was known around the world. He eventually became president and worked with the great men and women that made it happen. Kelsey will discuss boatbuilding and the boat builders of a small town in Wisconsin which became synonymous with the highest quality in the world, bringing clients from Kings to Brewers and Cookie Baking magnates.

Mike Kelsey began his career with Palmer Johnson at a very young age counting fastening screws in the stockroom every working day during his summer vacation from elementary school. During the 1970s Kelsey sailed aboard his father’s various PJ International Offshore Racing sailboats and moved from the stockroom to cleaning of the carpenter shop and then on to the hull department where he learned to work with aluminum alloy and general hull construction. Working in the various shops would give Kelsey a bird’s eye view of PJ and how things worked. 

In the early 80s Kelsey moved from the shop floor to the sales department and immediately began brokering both sail and power yachts and in the mid-90s began selling the companies mega-yachts and became worldwide sales director for the company in 1999 and later Vice President of sales in early 2002 and finally company President in late 2003. Kelsey has served on many boards and is past commodore of the Sturgeon Bay Yacht Club. Kelsey retired from the company early in 2013 for health reasons.

Following lunch society members and the brains and brawn behind the newly constructed Tool Museum, Brothers Mike and Pat Madden will showcase the toolboxes of early boat builders father and son, Hans and Palmer Johnson. Palmer Johnson’s daughter Cleida Galligan donated their toolboxes to the Historical Society for the Tool Museum. Cleida will be an honored guest at the event.

Doors will open at 10:30am and the first program will begin at 11:00am, followed by the noon lunch, and then the final program immediately following lunch. Please plan to arrive early for check-in as programs begin promptly. Stone Harbor Resortwill serve a soup, salad, and sandwich buffet, desserts, and coffee or tea. The lunch and program fee for guests is $30; member fee is $25. 

To make a reservation, mail your check to the Door County Historical Society office P. O. Box 71, Sturgeon Bay 54235 by Monday, March 13. For further information, contact the Door County Historical Society at 920.421.2332 or email Director.DCHistoricalSociety@gmail.com

The Door County Historical Society is a membership organization dedicated to keeping history alive for future generations through the collection, preservation and sharing of the heritage of Door County. The Society operates two interpretive sites: Eagle Bluff Lighthouse in Peninsula State Park and the Heritage Village at Big Creek in Sturgeon Bay.

36 S. Third Avenue, Sturgeon Bay, WI
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Door County Events
June 2017
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