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Henry W. Wessells III, of Paoli, PA, on Tuesday 12 August 2008, aged 82, vintage sports car racing driver and collector, and noted authority on Alfa Romeos.

Henry was born in 1926, the son of Henry W. Wessells, Jr., and Selma (née Rossmassler) and raised in Ardmore. He graduated in 1944 from Lower Merion High School. Following service in the U.S. Army during the Second World War he graduated with a degree in engineering from Princeton University (class of 1948). After working on ballistics development for the U.S. Army in Aberdeen, MD, he worked for The Budd Company of Philadelphia as an automotive safety and performance engineer on projects involving all major American and European automobile manufacturers.

He married Nancy Buchanan Hunter in 1957, and they had four sons. From 1974 to 1977, he was the Budd Company’s technical representative in Europe, and lived with his family outside of Paris. He spent three years at the corporate headquarters in Troy, MI, and then took early retirement to pursue his lifelong passion, vintage car racing.

Henry was a collector of Alfa Romeos, and owned and raced many notable racing cars from the 1920s through the 1960s, including the famed 1953 Disco Volante (3000CM), which he crashed at high speed at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix in the early 1980s, and later restored to its original glory. He was active in the Vintage Sports Car Club of America since its establishment and a member of the (British) Vintage Sports Car Club for a similar period. From 1953 through 2003, Henry was founder and recording secretary of a Philadelphia area club, The Clots, dedicated to the enjoyment of vintage motoring. He raced in North America, England, and continental Europe, and played a key role in vintage racing in Philadelphia during the 1950s and the brief period of revival in the early 1990s. Historians of the Alfa Romeo automobile regularly consulted with him on design, technical, and aesthetic matters, Alfa collectors relied upon him to evaluate authenticity and accuracy of restoration; and he consistently shared his knowledge with his many friends and colleagues throughout the world. For many years, the Wessells hosted the Delaware Valley Alfa Romeo Owners Club picnic at their historic farmhouse. Just before his death, Henry concluded arrangements to donate his automotive library and archive to the Simeone Foundation Museum in Philadelphia.

A resident of Paoli, PA, for more than 45 years, Henry was active with the Open Land Conservancy of Chester County and a dedicated beagler, with the Ardrossan Beagles.

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Nancy (née Hunter); his brother Daniel, of Glenmoore, PA; his sons: Henry (of Upper Montclair, NJ); Hunter (of Seattle, WA); Cooper (of Seattle, WA); and Arcangelo (of Vallejo, CA); and three grandchildren.

A memorial gathering and celebration was held on 25 August 2008, 11 a.m., at the Simeone Foundation Museum, 6825-31 Norwitch Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19153.

Donations may be made in his memory to the Open Land Conservancy of Chester County (P.O. Box 1031 Paoli, PA 19301) or to the Ardrossan Beagles (c/o Francis Jacobs II, 14 Rabbit Run Rd., Malvern PA 19355).
Tributes and Condolences
Tribute to Henry W. Wessells III at his Memorial S   / Chris Mann (Friend)
I am sure that all present here today count Henry as their friend.
And who, but friends, know more of the true essence of a man?
I hope these few words will strike a chord, among many as appropriate to Henry. Even though allowances poetic...  Continue >>
Eulogy  / Hunter Wessells (Son)
Good morning friends, family, and fellow enthusiasts, I am here at the podium to answer a question: What was it like to be a son of Henry Walton WessellsIII?   Like childhood, it starts with single memories, isolated from other events: Going...  Continue >>
Yesterday at Brookside   / James Francis (Friend)
Dear Henry, Hunter, Cooper and Archie,
 
I’m writing this one letter to all of you.  Its not that I’m lazy or believe I should have anything different to say to any one of you,  its that I really have one collecti...  Continue >>
My Friend Henry   / Evans Hunt (Old and Close Friend )
I first met Henry in the fall of  1951. I was driving my new MGTD on Montgomery Avenue in front of Lower Merion High School. He as driving his blue OSCA (I believe) west and I was going east. I made a U turn and followed him to his home in Ardmo...  Continue >>
UBC Message   / University Barge Club Officers
The Officers of the Club are sorry to have to inform you of the death of long time member and friend, Henry Wessels.  Henry had been a member of UBC since 1954.  Our hearts go out to his family, and especially Cooper whom many of us have th...  Continue >>
Condolences / Brian Shorey (Friend)    Read >>
My Sincerest Condolences  / Christopher Boles     Read >>
Condolences / Dott.Ing.Stuart Schaller (Alfa friend )    Read >>
The torch of integrity has passed  / Joost Gompels (Associate and friend )    Read >>
Saddened / Bob Schnittger (Admirer)    Read >>
With Sympathy  / Michelle Ciarlo-Hayes (friend of Cooper and Anne )    Read >>
Condolences / Al Cortes (acquaintance)    Read >>
Very sad news indeed (via Joost Gompels)  / Carlo Lavan (Auto historian )    Read >>
a great loss  / Elvira Ruocco (retired Archivist, Alfa Romeo )    Read >>
Happy Hunting Henry  / Stock Illoway (Friend)    Read >>
More tributes and condolences...
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Henry's Photo Album
Henry W Wessells III, Henry W Wessells Jr, and Daniel B Wessells circa 1945
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