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Rob Haeseler Was Hobby’s True Friend

Pulitzer Prize Nominee Wore Many Hats in the Philatelic World

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     In January, the collecting world lost another friend in Rob Haeseler. Many members of the American Philatelic Society and the American Philatelic Research Library know Rob for different reasons. He was elected twice as an APRL Board trustee, was a former APS director of administration, chair of the McCoy Reward Committee, and a journalist, exhibitor, dealer in postal history, father, and friend.
     Not surprisingly, Rob started his life’s adventure working at a stamp store and took work as a rural letter carrier during college Christmas breaks. By the time he received his master’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley, Rob was already a reporter at The Chronicle in San Francisco. In reporting Rob’s passing, The Chronicle opened with “Detail meant everything to Robin ‘Rob’ Haeseler — from the natty bow ties he wore even as other journalists went casual, to the jeweler’s eye he brought to his editing, to the minute strokes he brushed into his reporting to make it pop.” He covered remarkable news of the day, from the attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford to earthquakes to the search for the Unabomber, work which earned him a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize in 1992.

     In 1995, the stamp world finally got to take full advantage of Rob’s talents when he joined the staff of Linn’s Stamp News as senior editor and soon regular columnist, The Artful Accumulator. His investigative work yielded articles on all sorts of stamp mysteries, informing and entertaining readers for a decade. Rob joined the staff of the APS in 2005 and serving as director of administration and then, joining the ranks of dealer and getting elected to the APRL Board of Trustees twice — leaving the Board just last August.
     One of his dearest friends, former APS Vice President Ken Lawrence, said of his stamp business, “That was Rob’s retirement career, but really it was his hobby. What kind of successful businessman would spend two hours at the American Philatelic Research Library researching a $10 cover? But his ability to discover interesting postal history that eluded other dealers, and to explain it fully to his customers, was the secret to his success.”
     One of the more entertaining stories was Rob’s non-traditional way of acquiring stock. Lawrence confided, “Being an enthusiast, book author, and expert on the subject of collectible automobiles, he attended conventions of car collectors where he wore sandwich boards that bore the message ‘I Buy Old Letters.’ Every time he and I went to lunch, he brought along recently acquired philatelic treasures to share with me, all of them destined for some other happy collector’s album.” It speaks volumes to the passion he felt for his hobby and his fellow collectors.
     For all his accomplishments, Rob’s lasting legacy was spearheading the effort to reintroduce the world to the story of Ethel McCoy and the missing Inverted Jenny stamps. Though the McCoy Block is, hopefully, well known to our members today, it was under Rob’s leadership on the APRL Board and as chair of the McCoy Recovery Committee that the story gained new life and visibility, not only within the stamp community but the world.
     Rob and Ken worked to promote the missing stamps from the McCoy Block in 2014 and 2015, and thanks to a generous pledge from Don Sundman, of Mystic Stamp Company of a $50,000 reward for the return of each stamp, we were able to get the story out to a whole new audience. That work yielded incredible results when, in June 2016, Position 76 was returned safely to the APRL in a memorable ceremony at the World Stamp Show-NY 2016.
     We will be putting the stamp up for sale in 2017 and when the hammer comes down on Position 76, Rob’s efforts will have given the stamp world and the library another reason to celebrate. There will be more said about Rob by friends in the weeks, months, and years to come. We remain grateful that he was willing and able to give so much of his talent, insight, and great spirit to the hobby. Farewell Rob!

Membership 2016
     At the close of 2016, our membership change for the year was a loss of 541. That overall change for the year is the lowest membership loss since 1997 when the APS gained 27 members over the previous year. One of the biggest contributors to the improved performance was the largest number of applications for membership (1,700) since 2008, the year of the Great Recession. Our retention rate holds strong, capped by high renewal numbers to start 2017.
     While we aren’t celebrating losing members, I have heard from so many of you who say we should celebrate progress, even if we’re not there yet. There are many active contributors to the progress: Judy Johnson, our manager of Member Administration, is leading our team to serve and recruit stamp dealers who promote the APS to customers; local stamp clubs have worked hard this past year to make the APS a hot topic at their meetings; and most importantly, there is you.
     Members remain our strongest recruiters and your endorsement carries weight with a potential member. The top reason why people join an organization is because they were asked. If you have a friend or a loved one who you think would enjoy being a part of the APS, recommend us today.

Bloom to Receive Century Award
     Along the lines of members being the best recruiters, the APS was due to recognize a top recruiter at AmeriStamp Expo in Reno, Nevada. Michael Bloom, who just recently took office as a director-at-large on the APS Board of Directors has added another element of accomplishment. For those of you who travel to stamp shows, you may have met Michael at the StampBuddy booth, which welcomes newcomers to the show and the hobby and helps them navigate the booths and answer questions about stamp collecting. Though the goal is to give newcomers a welcome experience into the show and the hobby, it also yields results for the APS in new members.
     The APS first awarded the Century Award in 1978 to recognize those who successfully recruited 100 new members. It does not have to be in one year, but over your membership in the APS. Michael is the first person to earn the award since 2013 and is only the sixth person to receive this award in the past decade. For those of you who take note, David Hoover has been recruiting actively for the past decade and is very close to earning the Century Award. Hopefully, we will be able to add him in 2017 to the list.
     If you would like to learn more about the Century Award, you can go to our website at: stamps.org/century-awards to see all the members who have been recognized. We will be looking at other recruitment recognitions with the Membership Committee and if you have recommendations on ways to recognize great recruitment efforts, please feel free to contact me at scott@stamps.org or send me a letter. Thanks to all of you for working so hard on behalf of the APS, APRL, and the hobby!
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