On today’s date in 2016, Chester “Chet” Krause, founder of CCN as well as the massive publishing empire Krause Publications, died at the age of 92.
Under hospice care in his hometown of Iola, Wisc., prior to his death, Krause was the last survivor of his generation of the immediate family.
A funeral service was held July 1 of that year at the Iola-Scandinavia High School Gymnasium.
IOLA’S BEST-KNOWN CITIZEN
A long-time Iola resident and likely its best-known citizen, Krause was born Dec. 16, 1923, in nearby Waupaca County, about 14 kilometres east of Iola.
The youngest of six children, his education began in a one-room schoolhouse built by his father, Carl – an expert stonemason – near the family farm.
He graduated from high school in 1941, and two years later, at the age of 19, was drafted into the U.S. Army. He bravely served as an auto mechanic with the 565th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion in Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany until the end of the Second World War.
Following his release in 1946, Krause returned to Iola, where he began his selfless work in the local community. During the early 1950s, he built 24 houses, two churches and a 32-metre ski jump in the Iola area. Through his philanthropic community work, Krause forever changed life in his beloved hometown, which owes a number of its amenities and events to the late entrepreneur.
“This was more of a small agricultural town, and when [Krause] started his business it changed everything. More people had a reason to come here and live,” Loescher told Stevens Point Journal. “He could have left town or done a lot of different things later on but he stayed.”
The IHS Historic Iola Marker Program designates the town’s historic locations, two of which are linked to Krause, including the home where he founded Numismatic News as well as the site of the first Iola Car Show, which Krause also founded.
“He wasn’t a flashy or showy person about what he had,” Loescher added. “He was very down to earth and wanted to help, and he helped make Iola what it is today.”
Krause founded Numismatic News with the Oct. 13, 1952, inaugural issue, which was a simple one-page newspaper produced at the kitchen table of his family’s home.
His goal was to fill a niche he had discovered within the numismatic community. Having lived in a rural area (Iola had a population of about 7,000 at this time) it was difficult for Krause to attend coin shows and shops, but he yearned to be a collector. Thankfully for numismatists across the continent, Krause believed there were others, like him, who wanted to communicate with each other about the hobby of coin collecting.
According to an obituary printed in Stevens Point Journal, Krause was the “prototypical customer for his new venture: a serious coin collector who was geographically cut off from that hobby’s mainstream.”
Numismatic News was only the beginning of what quickly became a major publishing empire with interests across many fields, including sports cards and memorabilia; postcards; comic books; records; stamps; firearms; knives; toys; and general antiques. Altogether, Krause Publications produced dozens of periodicals and more than 150 books, reaching revenues of nearly $100 million annually.
In 1957, Krause completed his final construction job, a small brick and glass office one block from Iola’s Main Street. It would remain the publisher’s headquarters for nearly 20 years, during which time Krause Publications expanded through acquisitions and start-ups such as CCN.
CCN was formed more than 55 years ago, on June 3, 1963, when Krause teamed up with Cale B. Jarvis, resident editor, to release the first issue.
Krause quickly realized in order to thrive, what was then called Canada Coin News had to be a Canadian operation. Although he stayed involved for many years, Krause sold the magazine to Jarvis, who continued the operation north of the border.
Since then, the publication changed hands several times before landing with its present owner, Trajan Publishing, in 1989.
Krause was a life member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and a recipient of just about every award handed out by that association.
A member of the ANA Numismatic Hall of Fame, he was also awarded the Medal of Merit, Glenn Smedley Memorial Award (1991); Exemplary Service Award, Numismatist of the Year (1999); Lifetime Achievement Award, the Burnett Anderson Memorial Award (2009); and the ANA’s highest honour, the Farran Zerbe Memorial Award for Distinguished Service (1977). What’s more, he was elected to the ANA Board of Governors in 2007 and 2009 before stepping down in 2010 because of health reasons.
Also, in recognition of his accomplishments in publishing, in 1990, Krause was named Wisconsin’s Small Business Person of the Year.
During his decades of collecting, he was able to assemble an extensive collection of Canadian coins as well as several collections of obsolete and national banknotes, focusing primarily on Wisconsin issues. When his collection of Wisconsin obsolete notes was offered at auction in 2009, it was regarded by many numismatists to be the most comprehensive collection of obsolete notes formed on a single U.S. state.