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Chet's birthday evokes fond memories

Tomorrow would have been Chester L. Krause’s 94th birthday.

The man who founded Numismatic News in 1952 had quite a positive impact on Iola, Wis.

His birthday was always a time when well wishers stopped by to congratulate him.

He died June 25, 2016.

Last year, there was a birthday/memorial party for him at his office in downtown Iola.

It was a festive affair where everyone ate birthday cake and shared memories.

The office closed by year end 2016, so this is truly the first year without traces of Chet for those of us who worked for him.

Some of us, perhaps even most of us, still find ourselves asking from time to time what Chet would think or say about certain things.

Much has happened since he retired from day-to-day management in 1992.

All ties to the company had been cut by 2002.

That is why he kept an office downtown from which he could oversee his many community, as well as personal, projects.

I recall Chet in his prime.

When the price of silver popped over $15 an ounce in September of 1979, he went into the vault and pulled out a San Francisco Assay Office silver bar that was not a shiny, even-weight bar of the kind made by Engelhard or Sunshine.

It was poured and had the odd weight stamped on it.

He showed it around the office and told us how much the 107 or so ounces had gone up in value.

He recounted to me that when he was younger he had tried to speculate intelligently in silver.

While he did not say he was a failure at it, he did say he decided his time was much better spent building Krause Publications as a thriving business.

I am glad that was the decision he made, even though I shared his fascination with silver speculation.

Most coin collectors probably do also.

Silver went on to peak out at $50 just four months later, and then it plunged.

Lucky me. I was able to witness it, write about it, and get some vicarious thrills from it from the safety of my desk chair here in the Iola office of Numismatic News.

Chet eventually created an employee stock ownership plan in 1988 that provided solid boosts to the future retirements of hundreds of employees.

We were fortunate he did this.

This is the time of year to count blessings. I do.

However, I cannot help but wonder what Chet would have made of the current Bitcoin phenomenon.

I wish I could ask him.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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