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Hiker found dead lived a quiet life, but loved Las Vegas

He didn’t drink. He didn’t smoke. His wife said he avoided restaurants if he suspected they had a bar.

So, naturally, his favorite vacation spot was Las Vegas.

Jeffrey Kalista, a reserved 52-year-old Wisconsin man, multiple times a year visited Las Vegas to gamble and place sports wagers, said his 58-year-old wife, Lynn Kalista. He often visited alone, but Lynn would usually accompany him once a year.

He also enjoyed hiking at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, she said. He went for a hike there on June 10 during his most recent solo trip to Southern Nevada.

Lynn Kalista didn’t hear from her husband for a few days and reported him missing June 13. He usually called when he was losing money in Las Vegas but not if he was winning, she said, so she figured the latter was the case.

Kalista never made it home. His body was found on June 14 on a hillside below a hiking trail in Lovell Canyon, the Clark County coroner’s office said. His cause and manner of death were not released as of last week. Police don’t suspect foul play in his death.

Kalista was born and raised in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, where he lived a quiet life as a letter carrier for the Postal Service. Kathy Sadowski, 56, joked that her younger brother learned to keep to himself as the fourth child of six and the first boy among their siblings.

He was better at showing than telling that he cared about someone, she said. He was a good uncle to his nephews, whom he would take to Chicago Cubs games and the occasional Milwaukee Brewers games, she said.

“It’s just been hard to fathom and let my mind believe that this really happened to my brother,” Sadowski said.

He met Lynn Kalista when she became a letter carrier herself in 1993, and the pair hit it off. He cared about people, and he became someone she could trust, even if he was a bit awkward at times.

“I’m sure I probably had to make the first move,” Lynn Kalista joked.

Over the years they caught the shows Las Vegas had to offer, including Cirque du Soleil, Siegfried & Roy and Penn & Teller, his wife said.

For one of the tricks at the Penn & Teller show, she recalled, jokebooks were handed out to audience members, and they were asked to pass them around. One of the books was heading the Kalistas’ way, and Jeffrey turned to Lynn and told her she was taking the book and not him if it came their way, which it did.

“He was very shy that way,” Lynn Kalista said. “He did not want to be the center of attention, which is why we eloped.”

The two sneaked off to Las Vegas in 2003 to finally tie the knot at Chapel of the Bells away from their friends and family. He wanted to get married, but he didn’t want the attention that came with it.

The pair had already planned the trip to Las Vegas, and the dog lovers were looking to bring home a new one after they returned from their visit.

Lynn Kalista raised the question of what the dog’s last name would be, hers or his?

“For the sake of the dog, we got married. And the dog’s last name was Kalista,” she said.

While in town, the couple caught a sneak peek of Celine Dion’s residency before it debuted on the Strip and made a trip to the Grand Canyon.

They returned home to Manitowoc with little fanfare, declining to hold a reception or even a dinner, she said. It was her husband’s request.

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