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Auto enthusiast Walter Haessner dies at 71

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Walter R. Haessner, an automotive enthusiast dedicated to accuracy in the media, died Dec. 27 after an eight-year battle with lymphoma. He was 71.

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

Haessner garnered numerous awards, both for his writing and as publisher, over his long career. They include the following:

* 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 (1984); and

* two Antique Automobile Club of America Thomas KcKean awards for "MACK" and "Tire Wars: Racing with Goodyear" by William Neely (1994).

In 1983, Haessner founded the International Society for VEHICLE Preservation, a 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."

One of the society's main functions today is the annual International Automotive Media Competition, which recognizes and encourages excellence in all forms of automotive media. The 2006 International Automotive Media Awards were announced Dec. 18.

Haessner was well-known in automotive corporate and automotive media circles in the 1960s and 1970s for his involvement with the 12 Hours of Sebring as a photographer and commercial public relations director. Haessner 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 served as consultant and/or executed projects for the Franklin Mint, Ford Motor Co., Shell Oil Co., Mobil Oil Corp (ExxonMobil), Fram Filter Co., Jaguar Cars N.A., Lubrizol Corp., Unocal, and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

He also founded Exergonic Technology Corp. in 1986, which distributes hi-tech lubricants and greases. The company began its catalog with auto-related products; it now includes a full line of industrial products.

Haessner was a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers and several automotive journalism organizations.

He leaves behind his wife of 52 years, Elaine (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, 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.

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