Michael J. Heusner
Michael J. Heusner, born in 1939, is a fourth generation Belizean.
Great grandfather Jacob Heusner, a stowaway kid from Germany arrived in British Honduras, now Belize about the year 1848. Jacob’s son, Karl was born in 1872, and is Mike’s grandfather. Grandfather Dr. Karl Heusner was well known in Belize as he was a dedicated physician who treated all classes of Belizeans from his office on Regent Street or on house calls from 1896 to 1960. After years of service to his country, Dr. Heusner was honored in 2000, when the city hospital was named after him, Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital.
Mike enjoyed a childhood growing up between Belize City and Gales Point. His early education started with a love of the outdoors from his father, and fishing consisted of a small harpoon, cotton hand lines and nylon lines. In the 1950s as a kid, Mike learned sport fishing and trolling for tarpon and kingfish from a local fisherman named Arden Forman. In 1966, he caught his first snook, a 12 pounder on rod and reel also with Arden. A skin mount of that first snook still hangs in the lodge. Mike was hooked.
After graduating high school, Mike had the opportunity to attend college in California where he studied environmental management. While in California, he married and had two daughters, Karla and Judy. In 1970 Mike moved back to Belize, and managed a few garment manufacturing businesses. In 1980, Mike and Marguerite, managed Keller Caribbean Sports, previously Barothy’s Caribbean Lodge, Ltd (opened in the early 1960’s). In late 1981, just before Belize’s Independence, they moved to Caye Chapel to manage Pyramid Island Resort. In 1986, when KCS went up for sale, Mike and Marguerite went into partnership. Mike and Marguerite are the operators of Belize River Lodge, a world class sport fishing lodge on the Belize River in Ladyville. The lodge will be 56 years old in 2016.
Mike has remained true to his upbringing and is an active advocate for the continuing symbiotic relationship between tourism and the environment. Mike believes in, and practices advocacy through the many organizations in which he has been very active for the past 40 years. These organizations include:
- Belize Audubon Society, since 1971, presently first Vice President.
- Board member, Belize Chamber of Commerce in the 1980s.
- The Belize Hotel Association, board member and Vice President until three years ago.
- A founding board member of Belize Tourism Industry Association in 1985, presently representing BTIA on NEAC, the National Environmental Appraisal Committee.
- Member, Fisheries Advisory Board representing the sport fishing sector, and lobbied for many years for legislation to protect three important game fish species, namely Tarpon, Bonefish and Permit. Since 2009, these game fish are legally designated in Belize for Catch & Release only.
starting out in 1986
While not a member of either political party, Mike believes that citizens must take an active role in the community so as to influence and help the government to do the right thing; positive action, instead of criticism.
Beginning in the early 1950’s and continuing over the years, Mike has realized that all fishermen are optimists; and believes that it is a real pleasure to know so many optimists.