Brevardian of the Week: Dan Schuessler!

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Dan and wife, Mary K

Dan and wife, Mary K

Place of employment (what do you do & where?):
I work for a major oil/petrochemical company in Houston Texas. Have been with them for 28 years moving eight times including the opportunity to work in Brussels and Tokyo. I am originally from Philadelphia and am married to Mary K (native of Baton Rouge) for 25 years and have 4 children: Abbey (age 24) who is a teacher in Baton Rouge, Evan (age 20), a sophomore at the University of Houston studying computer science, Ashton (age 14), a freshman in high school, and Yuto (age 8) in third grade. I am very thankful for all the support my family has provided as it has been tough moving so many times and changing schools but they also had a great adventure living in other countries.

How did you first learn about Brevard?
I first learned of Brevard through my parents as we asked them to scope out North Carolina back in 2002 for potential places to build a retirement home as we were living overseas in Brussels. My parents said Brevard was the place for us. In 2004 while I was in Tokyo and Mary K was in U.S., she flew up to North Carolina and bought a camp in Sylvan Habitat which I could not see until 2008 when we returned to the U.S.! We finished our home in 2011 and spend as much time as possible up here.

... mama bear and her 3 cubs in our front yard in Sylvan Habitat...

… mama bear and her 3 cubs in our front yard in Sylvan Habitat…


What are some things you love about Brevard (specific things, locations, people, etc.)?
For me, Brevard is an escape from reality surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, waterfalls, strong community mindset, and best of all, the people. The people are so welcoming and you always feel comfortable walking in to the shops downtown and talking to the store owners. It is a very different environment from city living and we find It so relaxing to be in a community that has the outdoor adventure experience with great people! It is always hard for us to return to Houston and once back in Houston, we countdown until our next trip to Brevard and also have a countdown close until we can be up here permanently!

Dan & Mary K's children at Looking Glass Falls...

Dan & Mary K’s children at Looking Glass Falls….


What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
People would be surprised that I worked on a farm for several summers. My grandparents had a farm in southeast Missouri and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of baling hay, milking cows, and gathering eggs among all of the other activities.

What are some items on your bucket list?
Bucket list items include getting llama and alpacas when we retire in Sylvan Habitat. Has been something my wife and I have wanted to do and we are getting closer! Would also like to rent an airstream and travel the U.S. Having spent a fair amount of time overseas, we want to take our time and explore the U.S. more. Finally, we want to go to Antarctica as that is the only continent we haven’t been to.

How do you like to spend time (and what hobbies do you have)?
Most important to me is my family. They come before all else and given my work schedule, I love to spend the weekends and the kids sports events and activities. We love to travel, tent camp, hike, and horseback riding.

... horseback-riding at Pisgah Riding Stables

… horseback-riding at Pisgah Riding Stables

Ever had a brush with a celebrity?
I guess Mickey Mouse at Disney World if he counts as a celebrity :-)

What are you most proud of in your life?
I am most proud of my family and helping others. I feel it is so important to give back to the community. Adapting our youngest son Yuto from an orphanage in Japan is another moment I am so proud of. It feels so good to provide a home to a child without parents. We had 3 children while in Japan but thought we could still adapt and raise 4 children.

Click below to read Dan’s complete profile…

If you had $100 free money right now to spend in Brevard, how would you spend it?
I can make $100 in Brevard go a long way! I would start with at Dolly’s Dairy Barn having my favorite heath bar collider. Would then swing buy Tractor Supply to buy some deer corn (I just love Tractor Supply as we do not have them in Houston!). Would then go to Rocky and Bullwinkles to buy a T-shirt for my daughter (we buy T-shirts there all the time). Would stop by Bracken Mountain Bakery for our favorite blue cheese onion bread. Would then swing by O.P. Taylors to buy some Hot Wheels or Legos for Yuto (he loves to race the cars in there every time we go downtown). I would then stop by the chocolate shop for my wife Mary K. Then stop by ACE hardware for bird seed. Then would head over to Proper Pot for some wine and cheese to take home (Larry and Beth know exactly what we like!), and then finally wrap up with pizza at Big Mike’s. I know we can do this for $100 as we have this type of routine frequently when we go downtown… downtown Brevard is awesome!

Dan & the kids on Blue Ridge Parkway...

Dan & the kids on Blue Ridge Parkway…

What is the best practical joke you ever played on someone?
One of my children hiding my blackberry is the ultimate practical joke….they never did it again!

What’s one thing you did as a child you hope your kids never do?
I hope my children never stick a screwdriver in an electric socket like a did when I was 5 years old………I did go on to be an electrical engineer.

Your biggest pet peeve:
My biggest pet peeve is driving in Houston and people not having courtesy when they are driving.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child, I wanted to be a teacher and plan to volunteer at schools when I retire since I didn’t do it while I was working!

... berry-picking at Justus Orchard...

… berry-picking at Justus Orchard…

Name some favorite hit songs from your growing up years.
Favorite songs from growing up are Celebration by Kool and the Gang (was popular when Cardinals won the World Series in ’82 when I was in school). Also like Earth, Wind, and Fire – September.

What’s your favorite music now, as an adult?
Favorite music as an adult is Contemporary Christian and Top 40.

Describe a very proud moment in your childhood.
Proud moment as a child was driving the tractor on the farm!

What was your very first job?
My very first job was a dishwasher at a restaurant and cutting grass for about 12 homes.

... Yuto riding atop of Blitz!

… Yuto riding atop of Blitz!

Have you ever been skinny-dipping?
I guess I am boring since I never went skinny dipping.

Have you ever been camping?
We love to tent camp and actually went camping on Mount Mitchell in 1990 one year after we got married and remember how cold it was in May! That is when we decided we wanted to move to North Carolina but it took 20+ years to finally get up here and we are not full time yet!

Share the best vacation experience you can recall.
It’s a 3-way tie for best vacation experience – Riding camels by the Great Pyramids in Egypt, visiting the Taj Mahal in India, and going through rainforest in Australia.

Share your worst vacation experience you can recall.
Worst experience was when I lost my daughter in Disneyland Paris – they still talk about this!

If you were to return to your youth, what would you do differently?
If I would return to my youth, I would have tried to be volunteer and help others more. I was a bit self-centered in my youth and if I had the chance, would like to have been different.

Ever gotten poison ivy? (can you identify it?)
Never had poison ivy and can identify it.

Have you ever made a purchase that you later regretted?
Bought a Pontiac Grad Prix shortly before having our first child. Definitely not a family car!

What famous person inspired you the most while growing up?
Ronald Reagan inspired me growing up. I really admired him as a leader and what he did for our country.

What do you think your wife would say is your best quality?
My wife would say my family orientation is one of my best qualities.

What is something you daydream about?
When in Houston, I frequently daydream about being in North Carolina on my screen porch looking out at the mountains. You do not know how hard it is to be away from North Carolina.

What are you most thankful for?
I am most thankful for my family.

What’s your favorite thing to do with your kids?
Favorite thing to do with family is horseback riding and hiking…….could do this every weekend and never get tired of it. Larry at Pisgah Riding Stables knows us well. We are his most frequent riders.

What would you say is your life’s motto?
I have been very blessed and want to focus on giving back to the community. That is my simple motto.

What was the last good book you read?
Last good book I read was Private Empire which is about the company I work for.

What are your dreams for the coming year?
The dream for 5+ years is to hopefully be able to retire and live in Brevard permanently and not just part time. MY dream for the next year is to make our project in Transylvania County, Sutton Knob, a success. I define success as not only trying to make the business work but also helping the local economy working with the small businesses of Transylvania County. Decided to take money out of stocks and put it to work in the county building vacation cottage rentals. Also want the project to be fun for everyone involved.

Things I like:
Things I like are people you can trust and who are down to earth, the great outdoors, and freedom………after visiting many countries, we are fortunate with all the freedom we have and wish the states had more control of their own destiny.

Things I don’t like:
Things I do not like are materialism……..living in a big city, people often get caught up with who has the most expensive car or the biggest pool in their backyard, etc. I have no time for that. I do not like big government and more of our lives being controlled by the government along with higher taxes. Government should work for the people and not the other way around. Finally do not like business trips and being away from family. Unfortunately have travelled over 2 million miles on airplanes and been away from my family too much over my career.

Favorite book: the Bible

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