Lee Hausler is a retiree from Consumers Energy. He is also a Military Veteran, husband and father. He turned 100 April 2, 2022. Listen as he talks about his extraordinary life and shares his wisdom. This is part 2 of a 2 part series.
Bill Krieger: The views and opinions of the guests of the “Me You Us” podcast do not represent the views and opinions of Consumers Energy.
Bill: Hello, everyone and welcome to Me You Us, a wellbeing podcast. It’s another well?being Wednesday here at Consumers Energy. I’m your host Bill Krieger.
Today is part two of my two?part series with Lee Hausler. If you do not hear part one, please go back to last week’s episode. That would be season 3, episode 39 so you can be all caught up. Otherwise, let’s continue that conversation with Lee Hausler.
Lee Hausler: I applied for Cobb, I think. This is Consumers.
Bill: It was Consumers Power at the time, right?
Lee: Yeah. Anyway, while I was still working there, I went to [inaudible 00:52] to find a job in Michigan somewhere where they still got [inaudible 00:59] power companies, so I sent a letter to somebody, could have been Yolie, I’m not sure. It was in my early life, anyway. They sent me an offer and I took it.
Bill: And now you’re on your way to Michigan. Still just one child, or did you have another one in between there?
Lee: No, the second. The rest of them were born in Michigan. Well, technically one was born in Toledo, I guess. Turned out that I had two places to go depending on which bridge was open. It turned out the right bridge was Toledo, so technically she’s in Toledo, for the hospital part, anyway.
Bill: OK. Well, how many children did you have altogether?
Lee: Had a dozen.
Bill: 12 kids?
Bill: Oh, my gosh. That’s a lot of kids. [laughs]
Lee: There’s all of them on the wall there.
Bill: Oh, I saw the pictures when I came in, so I definitely want to see those before I go. But 12 kids, that sounds like maybe you guys were kept busy with all the kids and work and everything.
Lee: My wife was kept busy.
Lee: She never worked outside the house, so with her nursery training, she put it to work.
Bill: Yes, probably great that she had that training. What was your first job at Consumers Energy, or Consumers Power, actually?
Lee: Well, I was at Cobb Plant. That’s where I started, and I was in junior year, I guess, at that point. There were, electricity centers were on, different ways to get overall training. For a while, I worked on mechanical for the maintenance program at B.C. Cobb, but at the same time, I traveled to Grand Rapids, I guess, worked with the traveling crews for a while.
Bill: So, were you an engineer at that time?
Lee: Oh, yeah. I was but was already doing [inaudible 03:52] the basics.
Bill: Right? [laughs]
Lee: Operate plants. Once I’d had some training back at Iowa, I worked some time at the power plant there.
Bill: You had a basic understanding of the power plant.
Lee: Yeah, in fact, at Cobb, I installed a basic air control system. Essentially, I put in a nozzle, it blew with the air going out the stack. Also, I designed a system of some sort. I forget what it was. I don’t remember what it even was now, but I had some sort of an entire system that was coal, I believe is what it was.
Bill: Yeah, because these were all coal plants back in those days, were going towards…
Lee: I designed a system that could replace while you were in operation it goes side?by?side. You could trade it for one of the other without shutting the plant down.
Bill: You can work on one part of the system and still operate. Wow, that must have saved a lot of downtimes then?
Bill: You worked at B.C. Cobb for a while and then, where did you go from there?
Lee: I was at Cobb earlier on. Like I said, I ended up as a few weeks of it at B.C. and then later on river plant which was just basic.
Bill: Was a hydro there?
Lee: No hydro. Just a S.T.A.L.K.E.R?type plant, a basic coal plant before the pulverizer came on.
Bill: Now, the difference was that basic coal plants burn big warms of coal, right?
Lee: Right. It’s kind of traveling screen on and there on the coal on us.
Bill: Then when the pulverizer came along, how did that change things?
Lee: It doesn’t blow in it, was air mixture goes in, burns.
Bill: It was almost like a mist almost then like dust that goes in?
Lee: It’s the same as gas might want to be, except that it’s a mixture of coal and air.
Bill: You worked in Generation your entire career?
Lee: Generation, but I turned their nuclear back in 1960.
Bill: What was that like because that was new technology in the ’60s? Was that a pretty exciting time as they were turning to nuclear?
Lee: Yeah. Our company signed up as one of those that fall on this program on nuclear at the ocean and set up through what they call that…There were basic plants like power. Like, you had the boiling water accurate, and the…
Lee: What do they call the non?boiling water?
Bill: That steam?
Lee: No. There’s two types. Basic waters. What was came off at submarine at first time?
Bill: Because we had nuclear subs for a while, anyway?
Lee: We won, anyway.
Bill: One type of generating plant used that technology?
Lee: Yeah. I like to go on pressurized.
Bill: Pressurized steam, right?
Lee: Yeah, pressure. We had a coil going through, I think in steam.
Bill: Were you there when they actually built? Is it Pellet Steam? Was that the nuclear plant?
Lee: Big Rock.
Bill: Big Rock.
Lee: It was the first in United States. It wasn’t the first one, but the first high?pressure boiling water reactor storing 75 megawatts.
Bill: You were there from the ground up at Big Rock then?
Lee: Yeah. I started in order to control its setup criticality.
Lee: Yeah. Pulling my rig.
Bill: What was that like to start that plant up, because that’s a whole new way of doing things?
Lee: We did that West Coast, trained the crew on the manufacturer’s plant. General Electric, again, a small reactor. I actually got licensed under that first. I got licensed on Big Rock, so I feel I’ll probably never get to run this again. I’ll take my time now.
Bill: You were there when that all started. How long did you stay at Big Rock then?
Lee: Until I moved to Palisades back in ’68 I would guess.
Bill: Now Palisades was just a newer plant.
Lee: Yeah. Was 10 times as big as Big Rock.
Bill: A lot more megawatts coming out of Palisades than Big Rock at the time?
Bill: What did you do at Palisades?
Lee: I was the first manager there.
Bill: Now, did you get to pull the switch to start Palisades, or did somebody else get to do that this time?
Lee: I didn’t try to get licensed there.
Bill: Oh, OK.
Lee: I was there when they shut her down. In fact, I got a picture on my iPad of the guy that shut it down, and I’m the one that started her up.
Bill: For Big Rock, you were there at the beginning and at the end?
Bill: What was that like for you when they shut that plant down?
Lee: I thought it was a good deal because they tore the plant down and put the site back up. Pretty much the same as it was when I actually took the top layer of dirt out of the plant area and got rid of where its waste goes on.
Bill: Really put it back to the way it was before the plant was ever there?
Lee: Yeah, but some people didn’t believe that. The company offered side of the parking lot, they didn’t take it. The company still has the plant as far as I know. Besides, they donated it.
Bill: Did you retire from the nuclear plant then, from Palisades?
Lee: No, I retired from the general office.
Bill: You came down to Jackson?
Bill: Yeah, it would’ve been Jackson.
Lee: Yeah. Pan Am Building.
Bill: What did you do at Pan Am before retiring?
Lee: Initially I was running an engineering group that was supporting plants, but the clients didn’t like that. They wanted their own. We’d been to that. Then I turned over to more or less budgeting operation. I still kept my nuclear touch because we had a so?called state review board where you’d go out to the plant twice a year, and review their operation, oversee it.
I did that for about 20 years, and I also did one for Wisconsin Electronics, which was Two Rivers plants.
Bill: You would do these safety inspections?
Lee: Yeah, twice a year we go there.
Bill: This whole time you’re building your family too, right?
Lee: Oh, yeah.
Bill: You got to be up to 12 kids by now, I would think?
Bill: Then you finished out your career and…What’s retirement been like?
Lee: My last kid is 70 years old right now.
Bill: How old’s your oldest?
Lee: She was born in ’48, I think. She must be up there.
Bill: Yeah. Close to 80. 12 kids. That must have spanned quite a lot of ages.
Lee: Oh yeah.
Bill: Did you have six boys and six girls or what was the…?
Lee: It was eight girls and four boys.
Bill: What are some of the things you did after retiring?
Lee: I like to go off quite a bit. I thought you’d go off to about six or seven times a week.
Bill: Oh, that’s nice. I have golf clubs. I’m not much of a golfer, but I try.
Lee: I made three hole?in?ones after I was 80 years old.
Bill: Really? Where are some of the places that you like to golf?
Lee: Most of my golfing are in Jackson, Sharp Park.
Bill: I have not played that, but a lot of people I talk to that, live here, play that course and really enjoy it.
Lee: In fact, the guy that runs the parks includes the golf course. Golf courses more or less support the parks in Jackson. His mother is right in here.
Lee: Yeah. Occasionally, I see one of the people come through here, stay alone.
Bill: What are some other things that you’ve enjoyed since retiring?
Lee: Improving houses that I lived in ?? doing the plumbing, wiring, and all that stuff. Also, I like deer hunting ?? bow and arrow. Shot my first deer in Huntington State Park.
Bill: With a bow and arrow?
Lee: Back in 1950, yeah.
Bill: Oh, my gosh. When you were bow hunting in 1950, was that a popular way to hunt? I know a lot of people, bow hunting is a big deal now, but…
Lee: That was the first year it started.
Bill: You got a deer, then?
Lee: Yeah. We got a deer every year. That’s all I wanted [inaudible 18:18] . I didn’t eat anything but deer meat for quite a while.
Bill: [laughs] Sounds like it. I have my grandfather’s deer?hunting rifle. He had it, my father had it, and now I have it. Unfortunately, I think that rifle has yet to actually kill a deer. [laughs] When my grandfather and my father went deer?hunting, it was more about hunting camp than it was about hunting.
Lee: Around the campfire.
Bill: Telling stories, I guess.
Lee: Well, I took a gun out once. I never shot it. I borrowed it for a rifle hunt to see what the rifle people did, why they loved much to get cold and freezing because I thought October was a better…
Bill: The weather’s definitely better in October for hunting, it looks like. I think so. Did you do any traveling or anything like that after retirement?
Lee: Oh, yeah. We used to travel quite a bit. We had West Coast people. Then I had people down in Florida not far. They were in Florida for a while, but they ended up in Arizona ?? Mesa. That was a daughter who went down there.
Bill: Your mother and your stepfather are buried, you said, in Mesa. Did they retire to Arizona? Was that how…
Lee: They did for a while. Mesa.
Bill: It’s beautiful out there. My sister and my brother both live in Arizona.
Lee: Yeah, we used to go down there quite a bit when they were there. Before that, we used to go to Florida every March, spend the month of March. The guy I hunted with had a cottage down there, rented a cottage. We always moved in and paid half the rent per month. They took my bike down, rode on the bikes, bike trails.
Bill: So, you like to bike ride then, too.
Lee: Yeah, in fact, I rode my bike to work the last ten years roughly, about five miles each way.
Bill: That’ll keep you in shape. [laughs] That might explain the hundred years, right?
Lee: It might have helped. [laughs]
Bill: Right? [laughs] So, speaking of that, in April, a month ago, or almost a few months ago, you turned 100. What was that like for you? Because I know that there’s a picture behind me of that event. What was it like to turn 100, and did you have a big party? Was your family there?
Lee: Yeah, we had nearly 70 people there over three nights. What they did was they rented a lodge down where Highway 30 goes south.
Bill: I’m trying to figure out where that’s…
Lee: Anyway, you can figure it out later, but they didn’t find…They cooked their own meals and put out the food for 60, 70 people, cooked it. In fact, one of the major organizers was Jean here, and I’ve got pictures of it on an iPad I can show you.
Bill: Yeah, I would like to see those. So, you’ve lived a long and amazing life, and you’ve done a lot of things in your time here. We’re getting close to the end of the podcast, but before we go, is there any message that you would like to leave for the audience?
Anything that you want the audience to take away from our conversation today? Any words of wisdom for the folks who are listening?
Lee: All I can say is, live every day to its fullest. Keep your good thoughts going. Forget the bad ones.
Bill: Thank you for that, Lee. I appreciate you taking time out today to talk with us and to really tell us about your incredible life. I hope to see many more birthdays to come.
Lee: Thank you.
Bill: Thank you to the audience for listening in today. The Me You Us Podcast is proudly sponsored by Consumers Energy, leaving Michigan better than we found it. Remember. You can find the Me You Us Podcast on all major podcasting platforms. Be sure to go out and find us and subscribe.
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