By heather.cass | August 20, 2014 1:15 am | 0 Comments
Photo by Eloise
By Larry Kisielewski
Editor’s note: Hey….I know this guy….
“Behind every good man, there is a good woman.”
An old phrase, definitely dated. Maybe, in today’s equality-obsessed and politically correct world, outdated. In some cases, it would be “Alongside every good man…” or even “Behind every good woman…”
You know his wife. She is definitely “out there.” She has been featured in all the local major media – on TV and radio, and in the newspaper when she wrote a regular column for the Erie Times when she was employed there. She is the originator and driving force behind one of the more popular local periodicals and one of the most popular 5K races, both coincidentally called “Her Times.” She also authors not one but two popular blogs on the internet.
He, on the other hand, prefers to remain low-key, contributing in his own right, but certainly no less important or interesting. I would like you to meet Dan Cass.
Daniel Lee Cass is the third child of Greenfield Township residents Jim and Donna Cass. He is sandwiched between older siblings Jeff and Rhonda and younger siblings Steven and Jodie. While attending Greenfield Elementary, Dan played Little League until 8th grade and wrestled for a year. In lieu of participatory sports, however, he preferred hunting. He learned from his dad and his two uncles, and this will be his 30th consecutive year for the annual family deer camp in the mountains.
He graduated from Seneca High School in 1988. In 1989, Heather Bruce and Dan were introduced by their respective cousins and went on a “first date” to the North East Cherry Festival. Dan went on to earn his degree as an electrician at Vo-Tech, and would occasionally run into Heather at Loblaws, where she worked while getting her marketing degree from Edinboro. They started dating steady and were wed in 1994.
Heather interned for a while at the Erie Zoo before working at the Times, and is now public communications director at Penn State Behrend. Dan was snapped up by Griffith Electric where he completed his apprenticeship and became a full-time employee. He left Griffith for Bay Harbor Electric, where he was employed for 10 years, the last five as head foreman.
He has been the head foreman at Arrow Electric out of Greenville since 2003. In this position, he has supervised a number of major local electrical projects, including Lowe’s, Sam’s Club, Giant Eagle, and Gannon University’s new 5-story dorm. He has also taught Arrow’s apprenticeship program for the last eight years. This work is worlds away from Dan’s first jobs, where from age 12 through high school, he baled hay every summer and worked as a butcher, doing everything from slaughter to wrapping. His current rise in management responsibility came with a price, however. Dan bemoans the fact that less hands-on electrical work is making his hands soft, although his firm handshake suggests otherwise.
Dan is not just a master electrician. He has learned carpentry from his brother Jeff and is proficient enough to tackle any major home improvement. In 1997, Dan and Heather moved into a ranch home in Harborcreek. Dan, his dad, and jeff added a second story with 16-foot cathedral ceilings, plus six feet of frontage and a porch. He is now in the process of re-finishing the entire interior before he moves on to the garage/man-cave expansion. The Cass’s 18’ x 36’ in-ground pool is a neighborhood oasis, providing both socialization and relaxation. Dan is truly a handy guy to have around.
Somewhere around 1995, Heather got into an exercise kick and, never doing anything halfway, it wasn’t too long before she coerced Dan to join her. This was before the kids, and by 1999 they were full-fledged runners. The Hash House Harriers were in stride about that time, and Dan and Heather joined Chuck Orton, Dale Werner, and their cohorts on their merry jaunts. (Bad visual: Dan in a red dress!)
Although he prefers 10Ks, Dan’s most recent run, the Waterford 5K, was an impressive 21:11. He has run ten marathons, lowering his PR from 4:15 in Cleveland in 2008 to 3:22 in Pittsburgh last year. He is planning to run both the Erie Marathon at Presque Isle and the Wineglass Marathon in Corning, NY later this year.
When the kids came along, a new dimension was added. First daughter Kelly, now 13, is the runner, and Dan frequently accompanies her on her cross country jogs, especially Jim Lang’s weekly Tuesday night 3-milers. Lauren, 11, is the gymnast/swimmer of the family.
Although short family runs are immensely enjoyable, Dan is still a long distance runner. His 1:31 Presque Isle Half marathon last month is further proof of his progress. He finished his first endurance run last October, and hopes to one day complete a 50-miler. He participated in last year’s 18-mile Barber Beast on the Bay, although Heather topped that with her One Tough Mudder this past May. When not competing, Dan tries to volunteer for ERC events, particularly the Turkey Trot, the marathon, and Her Times.
As the working day wraps up, Heather arrives home and Chef Dan has supper ready. It may be a roast or meatloaf or even a specialty from his smoker – anything from turkey to baked beans. Husband, father, electrician, carpenter, outdoorsman, athlete, volunteer, and chief cook. Now you know Dan Cass.
Pets – Sam the dog, and cats Ollie and Bella
Last vacation – five days in Florida: Universal, Disney, water parks
Dream vacation – the Grand Canyon; running past giant sequoias
Hobbies – hunting, fishing, hiking, home carpentry projects, his smoker
Music – 70’s and 80’s, rock/country
TV – cop shows
Website – not a computer guy
Motto – Always finish what you start.
Admires – LK: Who do you admire?
DC: My wife, Heather.
LK: Hmmm, good answer.
DC: No, really. She loves to do things for other people. I really love her.
Fantasies – Boston Marathon, a 50-miler, retirement
Charities – United Way / Young Leaders Club
Blood donor – Yes
Cool vehicle – company truck
Sports teams – Steelers, some Penguins
Running regimen – three days a week: two 8-milers, one 12-20 miler with hills and stretches
Motivation – competes with self
Scouts – a bit. Currently “Den father” for the girls
Last words – Thank you, race volunteers!
** Getting To Know You is reprinted with permission from the August 2014 Erie Runners Club newsletter.