The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

September 8, 2013

Marina Manager Retiring

Geneva State Park marina manager moving on to greener pastures

By WARREN DILLAWAY - warren@starbeacon.com
Staff Writer

GENEVA-ON-THE-LAKE — Dean Heisey expected to manage the Geneva State Park Marina for several years and then move on to greener pastures.

He never did.

After 24 years Heisey will retire from his position as general manager of the marina on Nov. 1.  He expects to work part-time in the spring to train a new manager and then hopes to travel with his wife Mary and work seasonally in Yellowstone National Park.

Heisey said he didn’t know much about boating when he came to the area but fell in love with northeastern Ohio and married his wife.

“When I came here I didn’t know anything (about boating). I’ve learned a lot from the dock holders. I’ve learned a lot from my employees,” he said.

Heisey came to the Geneva area after working at Yellowstone National Park. “In Yellowstone I worked in the food and beverage area and I worked as a bell boy. That was the best job ever,” he said.

After working at Yellowstone he moved on to serve four years in the U.S. Air Force and then returned to Yellowstone National Park before going to a culinary institute in Hyde Park, N.Y.

Heisey developed strong relationships with boaters at the marina during the last two decades. “There are many people who have been here as long as I have,” he said of the regulars who return every year.

Heisey has several hobbies that have kept him busy in his off time and have come in handy at work as well.

Scuba diving in many exotic locations has also come in handy at the marina. A recent lost propeller was pulled from the marina when Heisey donned his scuba equipment and leaped into the water.

“I’ve found wallets, keys, rings and I see a lot of cell phones,”  he said.

Heisey loves to travel and has enjoyed trips all over the world. “One of the nicest things about my job is I have December and January off,” he said.

Heisey has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, experienced the Inca trek to Macho Picchu, sailed the Amazon and explored the Galapagos Islands.

The marina was in its infancy when Heisey arrived. “There was basically nothing here,” he said of the facilities surrounding the marina itself.

“When I started there were 407 docks. We have converted some of the smaller docks into larger docks,” he said. There are presently 399 docks in the marina and they were at 83 percent occupancy this year.

Heisey prepared for his climb up Mount Kilimanjaro by riding his bike to Hog Back Ridge Park (in Lake County) and then propel himself up 133 stairs, 24 times. He said he did it in all kinds of weather including snow.

While in Africa Heisey said he also volunteered for a week at an orphanage in Tanzania. He said the poverty was shocking but he really enjoyed the experience.

During the mountain climb Heisey said his five person group had 18 porters to carry all the necessary equipment for the trip.

Fifteen years ago Heisey found a new hobby and is ready to intensify his efforts in the metal detection field. He said his mother gave him his father’s old metal detector and he has not stopped looking for historical items.

“My first find was a gold ring on the beach,” he said.

Heisey said he talks to boaters at the marina to get ideas on good places to search for historic items. He said he will approach people about working on their property and work out an arrangement with them.

“Most of the time I will share what I find,” he said.

One of his more unique finds is an 1896 pewter campaign token for President Niles McKinley. He said he has found thimbles, old toy guns and many coins. “I find quite a bit of jewelry,” he said.

“The oldest coin I found in the United States was a 1788 Colonial coin,” he said.

Heisey said he usually finds items four to 12 inches below ground.