BELLEVIEW, FLORIDA – When Dale Shaner retires again at the end of June he has no clear idea what he will do next, so he is waiting on the Lord give him the answer.
That is the way he has lived much of his 88 years.
Currently he and his his wife, Phyllis, have run the once struggling Southern Sun RV Park at the edge of this peaceful community of 4,500 residents. Every week they have worked steadily to make the park more attractive and profitable. Since the Shaners arrived the park has begun to be filled with travelers with motor homes, fifth wheels and trailers.
Before they took on the RV park assignment Dale and Phyllis turned around a battered, rather disgusting, money-losing motel for the owner.They cleaned it up, replaced the broken windows, fixed some severely damage showers. It went from being a bankrupt financial disaster to producing a net profit of $200,000.
Yet they were paid just $1,000 a month plus a $1,000 monthly bonus for keeping travelers and their money flowing in.
The swimming pool had “turned as green as a dollar bill” and needed repairs. The sides were damaged under the surface of the water. After they prayed to know what to do, a fellow experienced in repair swimming pools needed a place to stay so the Shaners traded his help for his weekly bill. Another man came along who had experience in landscaping. He planted attractive shrubs to make the motel more attractive in exchange for a place to stay free. The arrival of both men were the result of prayer, Shaner says.
Now, at the end of June, the Shaners will move on again, totally reliant on God’s unerring direction, Dale says he is growing excited, wondering what the Lord has in store for them this time.
Because he trusts so completely in God’s care I wondered what church they attended. I asked if they were Baptists, a popular religion in the South, and he said “no” he and Phyllis simply depend on their Bible because it is the word of God. They find their answers there.
Shaner says he has invented something he couldn’t discuss because he only has a patent pending. It is his hope when his invention has a full patent it will be of value to a large company. Over the years he has invented several other things for the corporations he worked for but because he was on their payroll they paid him just a dollar and then made money for themselves.
This time should be different because he is doing it on his own.
Dale was born on September 2, 1926 in Oil City, Pennsylvania. Dale’s father lost his job in the oil business during the early years of the Great Depression. His father’s next assignment was with South Penn Oil where he was responsible for a well that once threw 1,000 barrels of oil into the sky each day until the company finally got it capped. His father’s job was to pull up the remaining oil, pumping the well with an engine 365 days a year.
The company had several other leases with as many as a dozen wells drilled in a circle. His father was assigned to get as much oil as possible out of the ground from those wells and pump them through a pipeline to a large tank.
He still admires his father’s skill in teaching him things. He was never ordered to help. His father always asked if he would like to work with him. If they were building a platform and Dale bent the nails his dad would simply straighten or pull the bent nails out he and say “Stick to it and you will learn,” and Dale did. “He was never critical.”
Dale wanted to play football in high school, but his Dad said “no.” And that was that, even when Dale tried to reason with him.
One of his early jobs involved producing lime for farmer’s fields. The company would hire someone to bulldoze the dirt down to the limestone. Then they would hire someone to come in and clean the stone off. Other customers wanted “burnt lime” and Dale worked at both jobs. Later he worked as an equipment oiler and eventually oiled a tall boom crane by climbing up a ladder. In time he was offered a chance by the boom operator to learn how to operate it.
When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor Dale and his older brother wanted to enlist, his father said “no” again. After World War II began, companies were looking for every able bodied person they could find.
In time both boys were drafted into the Navy. After basic training Dale was asked if he wanted to volunteer for the Seabees, a branch of the service that engaged in various forms of construction, including building roads, and unloading naval supplies from large cargo ships. In the Seabees he became a stevedore and so spent much of the war unloading ships, including food, clothing, jeeps, trucks, pilings, even bombs in Hawaii.
Later he was transferred to a construction outfit as an oiler. But he found there was little work to be done. He was told to work a couple of hours and then sit under a tree. He was troubled by those orders and asked for a transfer, where he again worked as an oiler, including oiling a 100 foot boom. The operator, who was lazy and wanted to stay home showed Dale how to run it.
When the war ended he tried to find a job, but few were available. As many as 25 men lined up for each opening. However both he and his brother received unemployment checks. He then found a job operating crane and worked at it for more than three years. With the GI Bill about to run out he enrolled in an accelerated specialized school to learn to be a structural engineer. He also studied designing and liked it.
He soon was took a job as an oiler, then was offered the opportunity to join the company’s design group, working for Matthews Conveyer in Elwood City, Pennsylvania. He soon became the head of a nine person team. When the company moved to Kentucky he moved to another company designing huge furnaces and conveyors. His first assignment involved a $124 million furnace for a steel company. The job with that company lasted eight years.
His first wife died when she was 43, and that is when he met and married Phyllis. She too, he explains, is a Christian who has learned to trust God.
In time he worked on developing a device used to produced double pane windows, inserting aluminum into the butane rubber that was used to seal the windows. His machine turned out a 30 inch by 40 inch window every 17 seconds.
He was eventually forced to retire when he turned 67. Looking for another source of income he delivered medication at night to nurses and others who needed it, and was paid just $5 an hour, a fraction of what he had been earning. But he didn’t complain.
Soon they decided to move to Florida and bought a small home. But not long after that Phyllis told him she was bored. That’s when the job with the run down motel was offered to them.
“We prayed to the Lord and the motel (which they were renovating) was soon 75 percent occupied. Phyllis offered travelers an excellent breakfast. One fellow who worked for a utility company that was stringing lines down the road kept returning, driving up to 14 miles to sleep at the motel.
“The Lord gave us the ideas we needed. We knew we were to love others as He loved us. And that has led to our success.”