Tell us a little about your background (where you grew up, your family, your career, etc.)
I grew up on a small dairy farm in Central Wisconsin. My education began in a one room school house. There were a total of 13 kids in the whole school (Grades 1 through 7). I was the only one in my grade all seven years. I could always boast the fact that I was the smartest one in my class. After high school I enrolled in the Milwaukee School of Engineering where I received a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
I had a 40 year career with Factory Mutual, a mutual property insurance company specializing in insuring large industrial properties. Our objective was to reduce losses by consulting with our clients. I started out as a Fire Protection Engineer and later moved to the Boiler and Machinery department specializing in the Pulp and Paper Industry. The last 5 years of my career were most rewarding as I was training new employees in other offices to include Sao Paulo, Brazil and Vancouver, British Columbia.
In 1972 I married the “love of my life”. Every year in May I use my math skills to calculate how many years we have been married. Based on my last calculation we have been married for 45 years. We have been blessed with 3 wonderful children. Two live in the Madison area and one in Toronto. We have 8 wonderful grandchildren, two of which are Canadian citizens.
What made you decide to volunteer for Habitat?
Every year we visit my sister in South Carolina for several days. My brother-in-law is a volunteer at the Hilton Head Chapter of Habitat. About 5 years ago he invited me to join him on a Habitat build. I enjoyed it and it has been part of our visit every year since. When I retired about 3 years ago I was hooked on Habitat and joined our local chapter.
When not volunteering with Habitat what do you do? (other volunteering, hobbies, work, etc.)
I was able to keep a good portion of the family farm and built a cabin there as a family project. I get out there as much as I can and enjoy doing things outdoors to include: Cutting/spitting firewood, keeping my miles of trails open in the woods, hunting, fishing, beekeeping, snowmobiling, and motorcycling. We also enjoy camping at Wisconsin State Parks, with Peninsula State Park in Door County being our favorite. In the winter we go south for a couple of weeks to take a little of the chill out of winter. I also get involved in projects at our church.
A have a small woodworking shop that I can heat so my predominant hobby in the colder months is woodworking. Over the last few years my projects are mainly stuff for the grand kids – play table with chairs, wall shelves, dressers, etc.
What do you enjoy most about Habitat? (what work do you like most, what keeps you coming back, etc.)
The people I have the privilege of working with (senior crew, general volunteers, home buyers, & paid staff). They are awesome and fun to work with. The other things I like about Habitat includes their mission in the community, commitment to quality, sense of accomplishment in the tasks we do, and continued effort to generate a full filling experience to all volunteers.
What is something about you that might be a surprise to those with whom you volunteer?
I have sustained my hobby of woodworking for over 50 years. Every woodworking project I have ever made utilizes home grown lumber from the family farm. In the earlier years, every Spring my Dad and I would cut down some trees and haul them to the local sawmill. About 10 years ago I purchased my own sawmill and saw about a dozen logs a year. The saw mill is all manual so I can savor the thrill of sawing lumber for many hours.
The front end loader on my 1959 Farmall tractor was getting worn out after over 50 years of use. It was getting difficult to get the logs up to my saw mill. Somehow I convinced my wife that everyone should have the opportunity to buy at least one new tractor in their lifetime. So about 5 years ago I purchased my first new tractor, a 38 hp diesel tractor with a bucket/forks capable of lifting a 24″ diameter, 8′ oak log.