Like his own 1978 Newell diesel pusher, Al Hesselbart keeps pushing on.
The former historian for the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart, Ind., Hesselbart is ”retired” in the most generous meaning of the word as he continues to present seminars and promote his two books on the RV industry’s history.
”I retired from the museum, but haven’t been able to retire from everything,” said Hesselbart, 75. ”FMCA has assigned me informally to be their historian at some rallies.”
Hesselbart left the Hall after 20 years in 2014 and became a full-timer who now spends winters in Florida and returns to Elkhart in the summer.
In addition to staffing booths and giving seminars at FMCA regional rallies last year in Indianapolis, Ind., and Springfield, Mass., and in early March at FMCA’s International Convention in Perry, Ga., Hesselbart will appear at social network RVillage’s first national rally at privately-owned Elkhart Campground May 17-12, where some 400 RV owners are expected to attend.
”I do two or three rallies a years with seminars on how the RV industry developed,” Hesselbart said. ”My seminars are very popular. People always are interested. I had 150 people attend two of them last year.”
With a background of varied interest that included time as a hockey goalie, Hesselbart is a native of Owosso, Mich., and attended Albion College and Michigan State University. He’s proud to say that he was an Eagle Scout and later became an adult leader.
Hesselbart joined the Hall in 1994 with the goal of organizing its library with magazine and newspaper articles that dated back decades and had been stored in musty boxes.
He has presented dozens of seminars and informally represented the RV industry in 2012 at the 1st National China RV Show. He was with the Hall when it transitioned to its location in a modern building near the Indiana Toll Road on Elkhart’s northeast side.
In addition to his seminars, he also pitches his two books, ’’The RV Capital of the World” and ”The Dumb Thing Sold Just Like That,” the latter title being a quote of an RV manufacturer in the 1930s. Both sell well to ardent RVers, he said.