29 June 2016

Chester ‘Chet’ Krause, December 16, 1923 – June 25, 2016

Collector and publisher left his mark on the old car world

Those of us in the old car world just assumed Chet Krause’s first love was cars. It is because his Krause Publications offered titles like Old Cars Weekly, and The Standard Catalog of American Cars. But he understood collectors of all kinds, personally collecting coins and military vehicles as well as cars.

A Wisconsin native, Krause was born six miles east of Iola, where he founded and ran Krause Publications. The youngest of six children, he started his education in a one-room school house, grew up working on farm machinery and Model T Fords and, ultimately, graduated from Iola High School. In early 1943 he was drafted and assigned to General George Patton’s 3rd Army in Europe as an auto mechanic in an artillery unit.

After his discharge in 1946, Krause returned to help on the family farm, while also working as an independent builder. His father sold the farm in 1950 and moved into Iola. Just two years later, Chet Krause published his first issue of Numismatic News. For five years he continued working as a builder until his publishing business was strong enough for him to put construction aside.

In time, Krause added many other publications, including Old Cars Weekly in 1971, a wide variety of price guides for many fields of collecting and hundreds of titles on everything from crafts to fire engines. The publishing company brought a big boost to tiny Iola, but so, too, did the annual Iola Old Car Show that Krause initiated in 1972 and the Military Vehicle Show that he co-founded in 1991.

Krause led the publishing company until 1986 when he stepped down as CEO, although he stayed on as Chairman until 1988, before stepping away from an active role in 1992, by which time employees had assumed ownership. In retirement, Krause was active in the community, heavily involved in philanthropy and continued building his collections of coins, military vehicles and cars.

He passed away from chronic congestive heart failure in Iola under hospice care, but not before leaving a tremendous legacy in the form of hundreds of automotive titles alone. Look at the bookshelves of almost any enthusiast and you’ll see at least a handful of thick and thin volumes, from price guides to comprehensive catalogs of trucks, fire engines, Chevrolets, imported cars and more.

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