Lee Albrecht: Man with a lot of drive

?There?s nobody who likes having fun more than me, but when I say it?s time to get to work, it?s time.??Lee AlbrechtWhether transporting semi-truckloads of grain or the precious cargo of students, Leland ?Lee? A. Albrecht of Hillsboro finds himself spending plenty of time navigating the roadways.

Albrecht, who taught and coached at Unified School District 410 for 22 years, drives for Pleasant Hill Co., a local contract trucking company. It?s a job he took on two years ago.

?Basically we haul corn to Countryside Feed, east of town,? he said. ?It?s never more than five days a week and sometimes we maybe only have two or three loads a day.?

Most of his transports are within a 50-mile radius.

?I haul quite a bit from Abilene and Talmage, which is about another 12 miles on the other side of Abilene,? he said. ?I?ve hauled wheat into Wichita, Hutchinson and McPherson.?

Trips to KC and back

Until just a couple weeks ago, Albrecht also traveled twice a week to bring three teenaged boys to and from schools in Kansas City?an accumulation of 900-plus miles.

Two students who are deaf attended the Kansas School for the Deaf in Olathe and other, who is legally blind, the Kansas State School for the Blind in Kansas City, Mo.

Those trips involved leaving home at 1:15 p.m. every Sunday, picking up two passengers in McPherson and one in Hillsboro, and then returning to get them on Fridays.

?I?ve done that for two years now,? said Albrecht, who turned 74 in February. ?In the first year I only made one trip per week. I took them down there and then somebody else retrieved them.?

But when asked by the transportation director for Unified District 418 in McPherson whether he?d be willing to drive both routes, Albrecht agreed.

?On Friday, I go back and get them and do the same thing,? he said.

At times that schedule has been somewhat grueling, but his wife, Verda, was allowed to drive as an employee of USD 418.

?So that really helped when she could drive and I could sleep for a while,? Albrecht said.

One benefit in transporting the three students was interacting and coming to appreciate parents with children who face demands in different areas.

?I think I?ve benefitted to learn a little about their worlds and challenges,? Albrecht said.

Communicating with them was perplexing at times, but he learned to recognize nonverbal cues such as being thirsty or needing a restroom stop.

Albrecht said he hasn?t decided whether he?ll continue traveling to and from Kansas City next fall.

School activity routes

When he can, Albrecht drives activity routes for USD 410, such as taking the Hillsboro High School softball team to Great Bend for the state tournament, something he particularly enjoys.

?One thing that keeps me driving for activity trips, especially the girls? teams, is they always ask for me,? he said. ?The only trip I got to take them was the softball team for this last one.?

That?s because the weekly Kansas City trips often prevented him from accepting such assignments during the school year

Albrecht has driven buses for nearly 50 years.

That started when he first came to teach at USD 410 and a bus driver was involved in an accident that injured a number of students.

?So I finished out the year driving the evening route,? Albrecht said. ?I didn?t drive the morning route and I?ve driven some every year since, though not a route.?

Honored as teacher, coach

Recently, Albrecht was honored at the 2014 Hillsboro High School All-School Reunion for years of teaching middle school math and physical education classes and coaching athletic teams.

Albrecht began his teaching career at USD 410 after graduating from Bethel College in North Newton.

He said he started the junior high football program at USD 410 and coached that program for 17 years.

Asked what other sports he coached, Albrecht said, ?Let?s put it this way, which (sports) didn?t I coach??

While he never coached volleyball, his list includes the high school girls? basketball team for seven years and middle school track.

?I also coached junior high boys? or girls? basketball,? Albrecht said. ?At one point, I did coach the high school girls? basketball team and the junior-high girls? basketball?and that was too much. Because I would have to have practice at 6 o?clock in the morning for one of the teams and then after school for the other. It was terrible. I don?t know why I ever agreed to do that.?

Harvest crew

In 1977, Albrecht started a harvest crew business that he managed over the summer months.

?That?s when I bought my first combine,? Albrecht said. ?I was still teaching at that time, and I always got back in time that I could coach my junior-high football team.?

His son, Mike, met his future wife when he was part of his dad?s harvest crew the summer after his sophomore year in high school.

?He went along as my truck driver,? Albrecht said. ?And we got up to South Dakota, the daughter of a guy I cut for had finished her eighth-grade year. To start with that year, she didn?t want to have anything to do with Mike. But before the summer was over with (that changed). There?s a lot of telephone calls between there and here. She graduated from high school on the 17th of May, which is Verda?s birthday, and on the 24th of May they got married.?

Family interests

The Albrechts have five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Mike and wife Hallie live in Phillips, S.D., and daughter Margo and husband Tom Gaeddert live in Newton.

Albrecht said he doesn?t get to see his family as often as he likes.

?That?s why I?ve got to start slowing down. Mike loves to fish and so do I. They?re kind of putting a little pressure (that I) slow down and quit working as much.?

Albrecht said he?s always felt strongly about building relationships and showing respect to others. He?s also lived by a mantra he often conveyed to his students.

?There?s nobody who likes having fun more than me, but when I say it?s time to get to work, it?s time.?

Written By
More from Aleen Ratzlaff
State cuts focus of 410 meeting
The impact on USD 410?s budget of Gov. Sam Brown?back?s recently announced...
Read More