Chester L. Krause
Chester Lee Krause, 92, a lifelong Iola resident and perhaps
its best-known citizen who founded Krause Publications, died Saturday, June 25,
2016, of complications of congestive heart failure. At the time of his death he
was under hospice care at Iola Living Assistance where he had been admitted
A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, July 1, at
the Iola-Scandinavia High School gymnasium, 540 S. Jackson St., Iola, with the
Rev. Dale Wilson officiating. Burial will be in the Riverside Cemetery in the town
of Iola in Waupaca County.
Visitation will be in the gymnasium from 11:30 a.m. Friday until
Memorials may be made in his memory to Children’s Hospital
of Wisconsin, 9000 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53226 or to the Rawhide
Boys Ranch, E7475 Rawhide Road, New London, WI 54961.
Voie Funeral Home assisted with arrangements. Condolences
may be offered online at www.voiefuneralhome.com.
Mr. Krause was born Dec. 16, 1923, in the town of Helvetia
in Waupaca County, the youngest of six children born to the late Carl and Cora
(Neil) Krause. He was educated in a one-room schoolhouse built by his father
next door to the family farm and learned the building trades working with his
father, who was an accomplished stone mason. He graduated from Iola High School
He was drafted into the U.S. Army in February 1943. He
served as an auto mechanic with the 565th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion,
part of Patton’s 3rd Army, in Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany through the end
of World War II.
Following his release from the Army in 1946, he returned to
Iola where he worked on the family farm and set himself up as an independent builder.
Through the early 1950s he constructed two dozen houses, two churches and a
105-foot ski jump in the Iola area.
In 1950, his father sold the family farm and moved into the village
of Iola with his wife, sons Neil and Chet and daughter Grace, residing in a
large Victorian home at the corner of Jackson and Iola Streets.
Mr. Krause published the first issue of Numismatic News in
October 1952, a newspaper to serve coin collectors nationwide. As the publication
grew in advertising volume and circulation, he finished the last building he
would ever construct in 1957, a brick-and-glass office building one block off
Iola’s Main Street.
When the coin collecting hobby suffered a serious downturn
in the mid-1960s, almost forcing the demise of his publishing business, he diversified
his publications, founding Old Cars magazine in 1971 and developing a parallel
line of periodicals for antique auto enthusiasts.
His involvement with the car collecting fraternity led to
one of the most significant contributions he would make to his hometown. In
1972, in conjunction with a pig roast and auction fundraiser sponsored by the
Iola Lions Club, Mr. Krause invited two dozen area vintage car owners to
display their vehicles at the cookout.
That was the first Iola Old Car Show, an annual event that
now draws tens of thousands of spectators to the village. The event has raised
millions of dollars, with profits benefiting dozens of area civic organizations
that provide volunteer staffing for the largest collector car show in the Midwest.
He was a member of the local volunteer fire department, a
member of the Iola Village Board of Trustees (1962-72) and a member of the
Waupaca County Selective Service Board (1955-70) during the Vietnam War era.
Though most of his philanthropy was focused locally, he was
a major benefactor over the years to the Rawhide Boy’s Ranch, New London, a
residential facility for at-risk youths; the Badger State Winter Games; the
Melvin Laird Center medical research facility at the Marshfield Clinic; and the
Max McGee National Research Center for Juvenile Diabetes at Children’s Hospital
He guided the growth of his publishing company through the
1980s, expanding into more than a dozen collectible hobbies and outdoors
activities, producing dozens of periodicals and more than 150 book titles, with
revenues approaching $100 million annually. In recognition of his
accomplishments, he was named Wisconsin’s Small Business Person of the Year in
At the age of 63 he stepped down as president of the firm in
late 1986, remaining as chairman of the board. In 1988, he converted the
company to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, eventually vesting the company’s
stock in the hands of its 400-plus employees. He retired from active
participation in the company in 1992 when he had completed the transition of
his shares to the ESOP.
While the ESOP was intended to insure that Krause
Publications would remain in the hands of its employees and in the Iola
community, a group of its largest shareholders voted in 2002 to sell the
company to an outside investment capital group.
In retirement as he neared the age of 90, he spent much of
his time writing monographs on subjects ranging from family and local history
to a compendium of places named Iola throughout the U.S. These publications
were a continuing facet of his lifelong goal to preserve historical information
for future generations, whether they be coin collectors half a world away, or
neighbors from down the block.
He was active in the creation and operation of a number of
alumni groups, including reunion organizations for the Dow Grade School and
Iola High School. He co-founded a reunion group for the February 1943 draft
“class” of 57 Waupaca County men who were inducted into military service
together during WWII.
Also harkening back to his Army days, he was active in the
565th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion veterans’ organization and maintained
contact with a number of fellow soldiers during their lifetimes. He was
co-founder in 1991 of the Iola Military Vehicle Show, which continues in
After a fall in February 2016, he entered hospice care and continued
to live in his apartment until entering the nursing home facility at Iola
Survivors include seven nieces and nephews, Patti (Don)
Dickhut, Hancock, David (Gayle) Klug, Lincoln, Ill., Alan (Sharon) Klug,
Brookfield, Patricia Klug, Iola, Jane (David) Klug, Oshkosh, Carl (Krystal)
Krause, Iola, and Kristine (John) Shurson, Bozeman, Mont.; and more than a
dozen grand-nieces and grand-nephews.
He was also preceded in death by two brothers, Neil, and
Ben; three sisters, Donna, Mary and Grace; one nephew, Tommy Krause; and two
nieces, Sue Helgeson and Beth Meagher.