A Buckeye in Arabia

People from the state of Ohio are known as “Buckeyes.” For readers unfamiliar with the term, buckeye trees are members of the Horsechestnut Family, and there are more than a dozen species. One of those species is Aesculus glabra, commonly known as the Ohio buckeye. The Ohio buckeye is the state tree of Ohio and gets its name from the tree’s signature nut which has a rich, gleaming, dark brown outer shell set off by a beige-colored “eye.” Native American tribes called them “hebucks,” meaning “eye-of-a-deer,” and buckeye nuts really do look like deer eyes. While Ohio buckeyes are inedible, they are visually appealing and often used to make decorative jewelry. For anyone who grew up in Ohio, they are indelibly associated with the height of the fall season along with bright orange pumpkins, multi-colored Indian corn, scarlet-hued maple leaves, and hayrides.

Back in 1981, a genuine native Ohio buckeye settled in Dhahran—not a tree but a living person, Dan Kearney (Badge Number 192105). Born in Berea, Ohio, a southwestern suburb of Cleveland bordering Hopkins International Airport, Dan traded his job with NASA in Cleveland that year for a position as a Contracts Representative with Aramco in Dhahran. A better salary appealed to him, of course. But the chance to travel afar, experience a new culture, and pursue adventure cinched the deal.

In a recent email to Aramco ExPats, Dan shared some of his favorite memories from his time in the Kingdom:

“I worked with a Saudi by the name of Sulaiman Al-Isa, and he invited me to his home and introduced me to his family in the Dammam area. He had gone to college in Ohio before I met him. We shared a lot of quality time after work.

Jack Egan hired me, and I worked with some wonderful people—Jack Krahl, Jim Hannah, Jim Gane, Bill Hay, Don Cashman, and many others. I still have my 1983 Contracting Department Directory if anyone is interested!

I lived at North camp for most of my tour and loved shopping in Khobar. I enjoyed working in the Northern area projects and traveling to Ras Tanura on weekends. And who could forget the souks?”

A bachelor during his Saudi years, Dan lives today with his wife Nancee in Wooster, Ohio, where they moved from Southern California following his retirement a year ago after a varied post-Aramco professional career. Dan is the proud father of two stepsons, Mike and Paul.

A Buckeye in Arabia
A Buckeye in Arabia

After leaving Aramco in 1983, Dan served in the U.S. Air National Guard and for many years worked for the Department of Defense. In 1999-2000, he lived at the USAF Air Base Eskan Village outside Riyadh where he worked as a Contracts Specialist for the U.S. Federal Civil Service. Immediately prior to his retirement, Dan spent ten years with General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. in Poway, California.

When asked how he spends his time these days, Dan answered:

“I’m still trying to figure out new hobbies. I’ve been retired for one year and right now I mostly walk and read. We moved back to Ohio from Southern California, and it’s an adjustment getting used to small-town life. I’m thinking I might get a job driving Amish in Wayne and Holmes counties.” (The Amish are prohibited from owning or driving a car but may accept rides from others.)

Speaking of which, Ohio is famous for its deep-rooted Amish communities rich in tradition and old-world values and fellowship. There you will find shops offering distinctive handicrafts, quilts, furniture, and other gifts and cozy restaurants where you can enjoy simple and tasty comfort food. If you’re fortunate in your timing, you might even get to witness an Amish barn-raising! Time spent in Ohio Amish Country is unforgettable. And autumn is the perfect season for a visit when fall colors are at their height and newly fallen buckeyes are lying on the ground everywhere begging to be taken home.

To learn more about Amish adventures in the Buckeye State, please click the button below.

Ohio's Amish Country

Dan hopes to attend the 2018 annuitants reunion in Austin. He last attended a reunion in Las Vegas in 2008 where he only knew Bill Hay. Perhaps he’ll see more friends next year. If not, he’ll surely make many new ones. That’s what happens whenever Aramco annuitants attend reunions where they are reminded that they’re all part of a giant global family.

Friends and former colleagues can reach Dan via email at: [email protected].

Dan and Nancee’s street address is:

3997 Stone Creek Drive
Wooster, OH 44691 USA

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