If you've been to any historical event or gathering within the last 20-plus years, you most likely have seen Charles "Chuck" Lahmeyer, camera in hand, ready to tell a story or shake hands with an old friend.
Lahmeyer is no stranger to the Mid-Missouri community. A Jefferson City High School graduate, Lahmeyer's hobbies span from history to space to beer.
Lahmeyer recalled how his passion for history really flourished when he was in high school. He traces his passion back to a class assignment researching all 262 Catholic popes.
"You'd think I was aiming to be a Catholic, but that wasn't the case at all," he says. "I was just interested in history."
That curiosity has driven him and his wife, Lois, to explore any historical towns or moments they can think of. Sometimes that means discovering "ghost towns" -- communities that have essentially dissolved over the decades or centuries. In other instances, Lahmeyer participates in historical re-enactments, collects railroad tracks and volunteers with various historical organizations like the Historic City of Jefferson, Missouri Historical Society and Callaway County Historical Society.
He recently became a volunteer docent for the Lewis and Clark Memorial, between the Governor's Mansion and the Missouri State Capitol.
"You meet the visitors, and they were so grateful to be advised and helped," he said. "I get a great deal of satisfaction thinking I'm doing something useful."
Some of the most interesting historical elements Lahmeyer has learned relate to railroads. He is fascinated by the Chicago and Alton and Katy railroads that ran through Central Missouri.
While Lahmeyer can trace his interest in history back to high school, he never pursued it as a career. He attended Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy in Rolla and received an engineering degree before moving out to California to work in the space program.
He spent 30 years at Jet Propulsion Laboratory -- a research and development lab funded by NASA -- working on spacecrafts and satellites, all with the goal of exploring deep space. The Voyager 1 and 2 spacecrafts he worked on have been flying for 45 years and are the most distant human-made objects at 12-14.5 billion miles away. For reference, Pluto -- the former planet -- is about 5 billion miles away.
"I was a big space fan as a kid and built model rockets," Lahmeyer said. "Then to get to work in that business -- it was more than a job, it was fun. It was a passion."
When Lahmeyer moved to California, he never expected to return to his roots in Missouri. Over the years, he became nostalgic of the Missouri scenery and change of pace. After retiring, he, along with Lois, moved to Missouri in 2003 to be closer to his family.
While retirement is typically a time to relax, Lahmeyer said he enjoys being a "busybody" by pursuing various hobbies and side jobs. He served as a publisher for a couple of books, owned a small tree-cutting business several years ago, and takes photos of events and places any chance he gets.
Lahmeyer is on to his newest adventure -- starting a beer club at Last Flight Brewery, 738 Heisinger Road in Jefferson City. He was a home brewer for a few years and competed in the local Battle of the Brews. Now, he wants to educate beer enthusiasts about the popular drink through the Fun Flight Club.
The club had its first meeting in July, where they tasted various beers, learned history about beer, and played trivia. Those interested in joining the club can email Lahmeyer at [email protected].
"That certainly can't be called work because I'll be down here, enjoying the beer with the best of them. Cheers," Lahmeyer said with a smirk, taking a sip of his beer at Last Flight Brewery.