Dick Johnson submitted these thoughts his recent trip to Keene, NH. Thanks!
Keene, New Hampshire was the boyhood home of Kenneth Bressett, the indefatigable editor of A Guide Book of United States Coins (the Red Book), who celebrates his 60th year in that position this year. It was in Keene also he met and married Bertha B. Britton 62 years ago in 1950.
Ken did some freelance work for Dick Yeo, original editor of both the Blue Book as well as the Red Book. Dick Yeo offered Ken a full time job to come to Racine and assist him with the numismatic publications he planned to publish under the banner of Whitman Publishing. The Bressett couple moved from Keene to Racine in 1959. (Ask Ken sometime who would have been Dick Yeo's second choice had he turned down the position in Racine.)
So Ken's freelance days were over now that he was in a paid position. Now he could give his full attention to Dick Yeo's creations, the venerable Books of Blue or Red bindings no American coin collector could live without. More than 30 million copies have been sold over those 60 years, setting an American publishing record somewhat short of the English language Bible.
The Bressett couple spent two years in Des Moines associated with the Kagins after moving from Racine. Then in 1982 they moved to Colorado Springs to serve the national collectors organization, the ANA, first as director of Certification Service for two years, then as Director of Education for three years.
Bert was at Ken's side all those years, often as hostess at a numismatic function where Ken had some major function. Numismatists knew her and she knew numismatists. On February 12 this year Bert Bressett died after coping with COPD for years. Funeral services were held in Colorado Springs, with a Catholic Mass for the Dead at Saint Paul's Catholic Church in Colorado Springs.. Interment was to be in back in Keene, with a memorial service later in June.
As an adult, my daughter Sandra Johnson Carazza, choose to attend Antioch College in Keene New Hampshire for her doctorate in psychology. She has been living in Keene for four years attending Antioch classes. How fortunate, I thought, I could attend Bert Bressett's Memorial Service, June 8, and also visit my daughter.
The gravesite services were attended by a large number of family and friends. The only numismatic personalities who attended -- in addition to Ken -- was Bill Fivaz and wife Marylyn, my wife Shirley and myself. The Fivazs and the Bressetts had travelled to Hawaii twice. When the priest asked for audience remembrances of Bert Bill recounted their Hawaiian trips, and his fond memories of Bert.
Incidentally, my acquaintance will Bill goes back to days in Danbury, Connecticut in the mid 1960s.when we were both active in the Danbury Coin Club. He was even chairman of some of our all-day coin shows in Danbury Also, Bill was my source of some of the best jokes I ever heard, both numismatic and otherwise. When we would meet at conventions he would always respond with a side-splitter, causing me to reel in laughter.
Bill was far more decorous than I this week. When prompted again for his latest joke, here we were in the grass at the Bressett gravesite. "I can't tell you that in a cemetery" he said.
My recent memories of Bert Bressett was at the FIDEM Exhibition banquet in Colorado Springs in 2007. While the banquet guests were invited out on the veranda to overlook the night lights of Colorado Springs from the mountainside restaurant, I noticed Bert alone at her table. I went over and had a 45-minute conversation with her about Ken, of travels, of family activities and mutual friends. This will remain my fond memory of Bert Bressett.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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