Cedar Community Resident Enjoys Lifetime of Flight

Jean Hauser takes a final flight from her accustomed place: the pilot’s seat. Jay Westhauser/Westhauser Photography photos.

By Carrie Sturn, marketing communications manager for UCC-related Cedar Community in West Bend, Wis. Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2021 Live More magazine.

Jean Hauser has fulfilled her passion in life — her passion for flying. One of six girls growing up in Hartford, Wis., Jean was born deaf. She attended the Wisconsin School for the Deaf in Delavan, Wis., and following graduation, Jean worked at Briggs & Stratton in Milwaukee on the assembly line, retiring after 40 years.

Jean’s passion for flight came from flying with a friend who was a pilot. “I decided right then I needed to learn to be a pilot. I saved my money so I could take lessons and found a very patient instructor, Ed Emanuel, at the Hartford airport,” says Jean.

Ed was able to communicate with Jean by finger spelling out words one letter at a time. They were a great match and were able to learn from each other. “He said if I was patient enough to work with him, he would be patient enough to help me learn,” says Jean. The trust Ed put in Jean gave her the confidence to earn her pilot’s license in 1965 and then to buy a brand-new Cessna 172. She bought it in Missouri and flew home to Wisconsin solo.

Trips every weekend were not uncommon for Jean. She has flown all over the United States. Her longest trip, one she calls “the coastal one,” took her to New York, Georgia, Louisiana, California, Colorado, and back home to Wisconsin. Her friend, Karen, would often travel with her.

“I was actually surprised Karen wanted to fly with me,” laughs Jean. She would tell her, “You know I am deaf, right?”

The delighted pilot after her flight.

Many times, Karen served as Jean’s voice, radioing the tower for landing. Other times, Jean flew alone. “When I would land, the ground crew would come up to me and start talking and I had to motion to them I was deaf. Not only were they shocked to see a woman flying, but a deaf woman no less,” says Jean. She often times had fun teasing them as they looked at her in awe.

With the help of Debbie Przedpelski, MSW, Cedar Community hospice social worker, Jean was able to enjoy one last flight in November of 2020 through Lifestar’s Cherished Moments Program. Lifestar transported Jean to the West Bend airport at no charge. West Bend Air generously donated the plane and fuel, and pilot Glenn Butts donated his time to fly with Jean.

“When I heard Jean’s story, I was more than happy to help out. She did everything but land the plane,” says Glenn. “Jean was a little nervous, but it all came back to her when she sat in that left seat, the pilot’s seat.”

Jean accomplished her dreams of flight. She was the first deaf pilot in Wisconsin, and she was inducted into the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame in 2008. Jean is very humble and doesn’t think much about it. What she does think about are the days of being able to take off whenever she wanted and feeling free without limits. Today, Jean is content at Cedar Community’s assisted living, enjoying the friendliness of the team members and reminiscing about the thrills of flying.

Says Jean’s family members, “Jean’s lifelong dream was to fly, which she accomplished in a big way, and proof if one puts their mind to something, it can be done! Taking one last flight made Jean the happiest person in the world! Thank you very much to all involved.”

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