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Chet Krause resigns ANA life membership

Legendary numismatist expresses dissatisfaction with ANA.

Chet Krause escalated his conflict with the American Numismatic Association board of governors by tendering the resignation of his life membership in a Nov. 11 letter.

Trying to de-escalate the conflict was ANA president William H. Horton Jr., who in a Nov. 14 letter of reply refused the resignation on behalf of the ANA board of governors and suggested a meeting with Krause in Iola, Wis.

The issue in contention is the naming of the ANA museum. Krause maintains that three gifts donated by Cliff Mishler, an anonymous donor and himself in an aggregate amount of $500,000 should be enough to name the museum after Edward C. Rochette, former ANA executive director and president.

Horton and the ANA board of governors contend that such was not the agreement because there was nothing in writing and only the main gallery is named for Rochette.

Horton told Numismatic News Nov. 14, “We’re hoping he will reconsider.”

The dispute has been ongoing since a July 2 ceremony at the ANA headquarters and museum building in Colorado Springs.

Passions are high. Prior communications with the board led to the Oct. 14 expulsion of Walter Ostromecki from the board of governors for an alleged breach of confidentiality.

The Nov. 11 letter of Chet Krause to William H. Horton Jr., ANA president, follows:

Dear Mr. Horton:
I expect sending this letter simply to Colorado Springs would suffice as that’s where the official task will be done to carry out my wishes. But because of the weight of the subject of this letter I’m directing it to you.

This letter is conveying my desire to terminate my Life Membership in the American Numismatic Association. This message is being sent over carbon copies to interested parties. My reason for terminating my membership is quite simple, and I’ll borrow a line from Lee Iacocca to illustrate the point. “One should lead, follow or get out of the way.”

After the recent volume of letters, e-mails and editorials dealing with the naming of the ANA Museum in Colorado Springs, I feel my age is to a point I no longer can be in a leadership position, but do feel my 52 years of service to the hobby would have qualified me to do so earlier in life. I am not a good follower in a cause with which I disagree. Thus I feel I should get out of the way.

For the uninformed, it should be noted the credentials of Chet Krause are not that of a neophyte. He started what was to become Krause Publications in 1952 on his mother’s dining room table and built it into a company of about 300 employees and $50 million in revenues. He diversified the company to cover over 15 hobbies before selling it to the employees, the conclusion of that sale being in 1995. Turning over the presidency to Cliff Mishler in 1990, Cliff continued to build Krause Publications into a 500 employee, $100 million company.

He (Krause) served in the European Theatre of Operations during WWII, being one of the first G.I. tourists to Buchenwald the day after its liberation, receiving three combat stars. He was Wisconsin’s Small Business Man of the Year in 1990. He was also the recipient of the Meguiar’s Award that year (the equivalent to the Farran Zerbe Award, except in the collector car hobby), and the same year received the Marshfield Clinic’s Heritage Foundation Award.

From the standpoint of ANA awards, he has received the Farran Zerbe Award, Hall of Fame, Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as most other awards.

He and Cliff Mishler headed an ANA fund drive which netted over $1 million, each contributing $125,000 of their own funds. These contributions were combined with an anonymous $250,000 donation they procured to gain naming rights to the ANA Money Museum in tribute to the manifold contributions provided to the organization by Edward C. Rochette over 40 years of dedicated service.

Of philanthropic nature, he has given over $5 million to numerous causes in addition to ANA, including medical research (including a cure for Type 1 Diabetes), Rawhide, a rehabilitative center for boys, Hope Lodge, an American Cancer Association project, Wisconsin Lions Foundation, whose projects include sight, diabetes, cornea transplant and eyeglasses to Third World countries. Has been very generous to local charities, including being co-founder of the Iola Old Car Show, whose profits of over $300,000 annually are divided to over 100+ local charities.

In the ’60s and ’70s he maintained a very high profile in the numismatic hobby. He was a leader on hobby issues in Washington, being credited with the return of mintmarks to our nation’s coinage in 1968, after having been removed in 1965.

He was the co-compiler of the Standard Catalog of World Coins, and co-authored the Standard Catalog of United States Paper Money, now in its 22nd edition. He authored the Standard Catalog of Wisconsin Paper Money.

He has been listed in Who’s Who in America since 1978, also Who’s Who in the Midwest, as well as Who’s Who in the World.

I hope the above will express the gravity I place on the narrow mindedness of the executive director as well as the board of directors of the American Numismatic Association.

Chet Krause

The Nov. 14 reply of ANA President William H. Horton Jr. to Chet Krause follows:

Dear Chet,
I’ve received your letter expressing your desire to “terminate my Life Membership in the American Numismatic Association,” but can’t, at this time, accept your resignation.

As noted in your letter, your manifold contributions to the ANA have earned many awards, including a place of honor in the ANA Hall of Fame.

For 52 years, you’ve led the world of numismatics through example and action; it is neither time for you to follow nor time to get out of the way.

Just as statesmen retire from public light, or professors earn emeritus status, dedicated numismatists like you remain leaders by the examples they’ve set through the years. No resignation can purge your accomplishments from the memories of the thousands of numismatists whose lives you’ve touched. You remain a leader through your continuing involvement that serves to inspire a new generation of numismatists.

I’d like you to reconsider your request to terminate your ANA membership. I know you and Cliff disagree with the board of governor’s decision to name the main gallery, rather than the museum, for Ed Rochette. The board believes firmly that it made the right decision; as Cliff has acknowledged in correspondence, you set a $1 million donation as the level for naming the museum. That fundraising goal was not met. But the naming of ANA’s main and prominent gallery in Ed’s honor truly acknowledges Ed’s 40 years of service to the ANA. And we certainly appreciate your efforts to raise more than $750,000 for the museum.

Our war of letters, however, is accomplishing little. Only by meeting in person can we have the discussion that’s necessary to decide if there is a mutually agreeable solution to this situation. Both ANA Executive Director Chris Cipoletti and I have tried unsuccessfully on several occasions to set up a time to meet. Let me suggest that Chris and I come to Iola to meet with you and Cliff either the week of Nov. 28, or the week of Dec. 5. At that time, we can discuss the problem and see if we can reach a solution that works for all of us.

William H. Horton Jr.