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Goodbye, City Life

by Rich Wilhelm

Many people dream about owning a home that is maintenance-free after they retire, a place where grass never needs to be cut and the
solution to any home repair issue is just a telephone call away.

Don Bouse and his wife, Brenda, went a different way. They bought a cattle ranch.

About three years ago, Bouse, who was born in Roswell, N.M., but raised in Amarillo, Texas, was contemplating what he wanted to do after his eventual retirement. Bouse turned to the Internet and immediately found something that intrigued him. “I started looking for rural real estate property,” Bouse says. “I began looking on a Thursday, found the property online Saturday, we went to look at it on Sunday and put a contract in for it on Monday. Within a week, we went from not even knowing we were going to buy anything to buying the property. It kind of shocked our kids, because we’re not known for impromptu decisions, but it really looked good, so we went ahead and did it.”

The property the Bouses purchased is a 55-acre (22-hectare) ranch located between the towns of Canton and Tyler in east Texas. “East Texas is a really pretty part of the state,” says Bouse, a lifelong Texan. “The ranch is right on the edge of the piney woods that east Texas is known for and it’s got a spring-fed creek that runs right through it.”

The Bouses currently spend their weekends at the ranch, which they’ve leased to a rancher who keeps 50 head of cattle on it. However, they hope to move to the ranch within a year. “At that point,” Bouse says, “I’m going to try to become a rancher. I’ve been a city slicker all my life.”

Bouse earned his self-described city slicker reputation while living and working in Dallas for most of his career. He held management and engineering positions in the water utilities department of Dallas from 1971 through 1998, when he retired from the city and took his current position as a senior project engineer for Chiang, Patel and Yerby.

Throughout his career, Bouse has focused on water and wastewater issues. Some of the major projects in the Dallas area that he’s worked on include the American Airline Center Sports Arena, the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport Skylink Automated People Mover Project, and the US 75 (Central Expressway) widening project. His current position at CPY took him to Puerto Rico for two years, where he worked on the North Coast Water Transmission Project.

Bouse’s 21-year-long involvement with ASTM International began with a three-year-long stint on Committee C04 on Vitrified Clay Pipe. He became a member of C13 on Concrete Pipe in 1983 and has been active in several capacities. He has been chairman of C13 since 2002, and was chair of Subcommittee C13.01 on Non-Reinforced Concrete Sewer, Drain and Irrigation Pipe from 1988 until 2003. He also chairs C13’s executive committee and has participated in Subcommittee C13.08 on Rubber Gaskets and C13.10 on Correlation and Editorial. Earlier this year, Bouse was given the Award of Merit, ASTM International’s highest honor, for his two decades of service to Committee C13.

Making the transition from Dallas city life to a quiet East Texas ranch is bound to present a steep learning curve for Bouse, but, like the character played by Eddie Albert in the old Green Acres television show, Bouse feels he’s up to the challenge. “We go out and spend weekends at the ranch and I try to learn some things,” says Bouse. After he discovered that someone had driven through part of the barbed wire fence that borders the property, Bouse attempted to fix the fence himself. “I thought I did a pretty good job, but then the guy I leased the place to did his own repair job. When I did it, it looked like a city slicker had done it. When he did it, it looked like a real repair job.”

Copyright 2004, ASTM International