TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Entrepreneur, pioneer, visionary — those were some of the words used by locals to describe Daniel Martin Hauserman Sr.
Yet Hauserman would never take such credit.
“He never put himself in the spotlight,” said Dan Hauserman, Jr., one of Hauserman’s six children. “He always gave it to Mom; he never hogged the show.”
Daniel Hauserman died March 12, 2014, in Sutter Creek, Calif., after being in declining health. He was 89.
In 1960, shortly after the Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, he and his wife, Joan, moved to Tahoe with their children. After noticing a lack of shopping opportunities in Tahoe City, the couple decided to pursue building a Bavarian-style shopping center that would become the center of town.
“They were risk takers,” said longtime resident and author Tim Hauserman, one of Hauserman’s children. “They put themselves out there — ‘Oh, let’s start a shopping center in Tahoe City.’ … They just had the guts to do stuff, and that’s how people end up being successful.”
While Joan came up with the idea of a shopping center, Hauserman was the practical one, trying to figure out how to make that idea into a reality.
After securing a loan from First National Bank of Nevada, the duo started constructing the Cobblestone Center’s first building in 1966. The second building was started in 1967, with the cinema coming two years later. Construction continued until 1973, with the clock tower, the former A&W restaurant building and Tyrol Haus.
“I think they (Dan and Joan) were the pioneers of the modern Tahoe City,” said Cathy Lindsey, who worked with them from 1988 to 2000, managing the Cobblestone Center.
While constructing the center in 1966, the couple moved the then-Lake Chalet Motel — which they bought in 1964 — to its current location across the street from Tahoe Tree Company; started constructing a family home at Dollar Point; created Hauserman Real Estate; and had their sixth child.
“Most people come to Tahoe as their escape or their (time) away from work, but for them, Tahoe was their hardest working years,” Tim said.
“To think about all that they had going on between ‘65 and ‘70 is staggering,” Dan added.
Despite being busy, Hauserman still found time to be with his family, teaching his children waterskiing, sailing and other Tahoe-related recreational activities.
One of Hauserman’s favorite hobbies was to drive a custom wooden boat built in 1938 for his dad, called the Woodmere.
Hauserman, too, came from a large family, the youngest of nine children. He was born in Cleveland on April 23, 1924. Growing up, he would spend summers at Lake Muskoka in Ontario, Canada.
In 1943, he entered the U.S. Army during World War II, starting in Africa and training in Italy before being sent to participate in the invasion of southern France.
After three years as a private in the Army, Hauserman attended Loyola University in Los Angeles (known today as Loyola Marymount University) on the GI Bill. It was there he met Joan, and the two married in 1948.
Eighteen months later, Hauserman graduated from college with a business degree and moved back to Cleveland with Joan to work in his family’s movable steel partition company, E.F. Hauserman Co, which is no longer in business.
Over the years, the company transferred the family from Cleveland to St. Louis to San Francisco, before separating from the business in the early 1960s and making their mark on Tahoe City.
“The Hausermans were activists and some of the first community entrepreneurs that we have,” said Tahoe City resident Wally Auerbach, who knew the couple personally. “They were really some of the first visionaries.”
While in Tahoe City, Hauserman was also was a volunteer firefighter for North Tahoe Fire Protection District and member of the local rotary club.
In 1986, the couple retired, moving to Palm Springs, Calif., where Hauserman spent a lot of time playing golf and tennis. During the summers, they would go to Lake Muskoka.
“He was a very appreciative person,” Tim said. “He might come across as quiet at first, but he was a total jokester. He was always pulling puns and the classic pun lines.”
Hauserman is immediately survived by Joan; six children, Tim, Dan, Susie Bellomy, Julie Perachiotti, Mary Carnell and Heidi Wilmott; 14 grandchildren; and 12 great grandchildren.
His funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m., Saturday, March 22, at the St. Louis Church in Cathedral City, Calif. The public is invited to attend.
There are no plans currently for a celebration of life at Tahoe.
“(These) passings are opportunities for us to reflect on what a cool history we have here,” Auerbach said. “... There is some amazing history in the people who built this town. If you wait too long, you may never hear it.”