Auto Enthusiast Walter R Haessner Dies at 71

Walter Haessner

Walter R. Haessner died Wednesday;morning, December 27th, of lymphoma-related causes.

Tucson, Ariz., December 29, 2006: Walter R. Haessner died Wednesday; morning, December 27th, of lymphoma-related causes. Always the; optimist, he fought this disease since 1998, never giving up hope; there would be a cure. However, beginning January 14, 2006, one; infection after another kept him bedridden at home or in the hospital; for the better part of the year, until finally his immune system; could cope no longer. It was time for this tough old Marine to move; on to the final adventure.

Highly respected throughout the automotive world, Walt will be missed; for his cheerful laugh that could fill a room, his gleeful enthusiasm; about whatever his current activity might be, his willingness to; share his knowledge, and his dedication to accuracy in media.

His communications company, AZTEX Corporation, publishes non-fiction; books, primarily in the fields of transportation, auto racing and; corporate history.

Additionally, he founded Exergonic Technology Corp. in 1986, which; distributes hi-tech lubricants and greases. This began with auto- related products, and has grown into a full line of industrial products.

Long recognized as an automotive expert, Haessner served as; consultant and/or executed projects for the Franklin Mint, Ford Motor; Company, Shell Oil Company, Mobil Oil Corp (ExxonMobil), Fram Filter; Co., Jaguar Cars N.A., Lubrizol Corp., Unocal, and The Goodyear Tire; & Rubber Co.

Walt was born May 17, 1935, in Passaic, N.J. At an early age he moved; with his mother and step-father to Miami, Fla. Summers were spent; with his father in New Jersey.

In 1954 he went on two years active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps,; during which time he completed high school, went to camera repair; school, got married, became a father, and achieved the rank of corporal.

After service, he was purchasing agent for Century Engineering Co. in; New Jersey, for which he had worked summers during high school. He; then went to Reaction Motors (Thiokol) as a high speed engineering; photographer working on the X-15 missile project, followed by a; period at Cape Canaveral, Florida, with RCA Missile Test Project as; one of 300 photographers hired out of 30,000 interviewed.

While at the Cape, he went to the 1960 12 Hours of Sebring as a track; photographer. He left the Cape in late 1962, returned to; Newfoundland, New Jersey, and began his own marketing/public; relations/photography/publishing business. Walt was East Coast; photographer for Sports Car Graphic for 1963 and 1964. His first; publishing contract was for the 1964 12 Hours of Sebring race; program. One of his more memorable marketing gigs was arranging to; have Great Western Champagne of New York in the Winner's Circle of; the (circa) 1971 Can-Am races.

Well-known in automotive corporate and automotive media circles in; the 1960s and 1970s for his involvement with the 12 Hours of Sebring; as commercial public relations director, which incorporated all sales; of advertising as well as solicitation of sponsorship monies, Walt; also joined the late Bill Finefrock in producing advertising/ editorial inserts and/or full race programs for the Can-Am, Trans-Am; and Formula 5000 sports car series.

Haessner garnered numerous awards, both for his writing and as; publisher. These include the Imperial Palace Moto Award 1988 for an; editorial in Restoration News Bulletin; two Society of Automotive; Historians Cugnot Awards for the books "MACK" by John B. Montville; (1974), and "My Two Lives: Race Driver to Restaurateur" by Rene; Dreyfus with Beverly Rae Kimes; as well as two Antique Automobile; Club of America Thomas KcKean awards for "MACK" by John B. Montville; (1974), and "Tire Wars: Racing with Goodyear" by William Neely; (1994). Five titles have been book club selections.

In 1983, Haessner founded the International Society for VEHICLE; Preservation (ISVP), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization.; The Society's purpose is to spread an appreciation and understanding; of the benefits of freedom of movement to society worldwide, to; assist in accurate preservation and restoration of vehicles and; related artifacts, and accurate recording of the history thereof.

The idea for this organization arose from a meeting with the late; Henry Austin Clark, Jr., at his home in Glen Cove, N.Y., at which; time "Austie" told Walt the only way it would happen is if Walt just; "went and did it himself." And so he did, with the support of an; eclectic group of individuals from auto racing, collecting, media,; museums, archiving, restoration--from Italy, France, England, and the; US, who served on the Board of Advisors.

One of the Society's main functions today is the annual International; Automotive Media Competition, to recognize and encourage excellence; in all forms of automotive media. For the fourth year, the Truck; Writers of North America has asked ISVP to administer its awards; program under the same standards.

Walter R. Haessner was a member of the Society of Automotive; Engineers and several automotive journalism organizations. He held a; BS in marketing.

Haessner's interest in things automotive goes back to his childhood.; He got his driver's license at 14, bought his first vehicle: a 1923; American LaFrance Brockway Torpedo chemical fire truck, and did a; ground-up restoration on it while still in high school. He had an; extensive automotive library as well as photo archives.

Though much of his life centered around automobiles, Walt became; fascinated with computers while at the Cape in the early 1960s and; his interest therein grew exponentially over the years. He consumed; computer manuals, was an avid science fiction devotee, and was; "owned" by an old grey cat.

He leaves behind his wife and soul-mate of 52 years, Elaine C.; (Jordan) Haessner; three beloved children: Ursula Haessner Cochran of; Florida, Walter W. Haessner of Arizona, and Dora E. H. Crow and; husband Jim of California; and four adored grandchildren: Lane; Ferguson and Sara Cochran of Florida; and Eric and Stephanie Crow of; California.

In lieu of flowers, it is suggested that anyone wishing to make a; remembrance in his name send a donation to either the American Cancer; Society, or to the Haessner family church (his great-uncle was the; first pastor there): St John Lutheran Church, 140 Lexington Avenue,; Passaic, NJ 07055.

A service, followed by a Celebration of Life, will be held at St; John's at a date to be determined. Those wishing to attend, or to be; kept up to date regarding this, are asked to contact Elaine Haessner; at isvp@earthlink.net so your e-mail address may be added to the; register.

joela
condolences to his family and friends.

New Car Research

our instagram

get Automobile Magazine

Subscribe to the magazine and save up to 84% off the newsstand price

subscribe

new cars

Read Related Articles

TO TOP