Saturday, October 26, 2013

In Memoriam: Henry Wehle, 1939-2013

Henry demonstrating the Hammond Glider, January 2013.
     Henry Edward Wehle was born and raised in Tampa, where he graduated from Jesuit High School in 1957.  After serving in the Florida Army National Guard, he and his twin brother Gerald founded and operated Tampa Thermogravers, Inc., for over forty years.  When he and Gerry decided to retire, they looked just down the street from their shop on Kennedy Boulevard to the University of Tampa, where they had heard that the University of Tampa Press had an interest in keeping letterpress printing alive.
     Henry and Gerry donated much of their foundry type, letterpress equipment, and their vintage Intertype machine to the university’s Book Arts Studio, and Henry agreed to be our volunteer expert on its history and operation.

Henry setting type on the Intertype for MFA graduate students and visiting writer Karen Russell (far right), Pulitzer Prize finalist and MacArthur Foundation Fellow, at the Book Arts Studio in January 2013.
     Since that time, hundreds of students, professors, visiting writers, artists, and serious hobby printers have enjoyed the chance to learn about typesetting on the Intertype and Linotype machines from Henry.  He had a knack for bringing the history and operation of the machine to life.  And when he talked about it, his interest and enthusiasm were contagious.  The twinkle in his eye and the smile on his face let you know that he still got a kick from the sheer mechanics and ingenuity involved in making lines of type drop out like clockwork.

Henry explaining the Intertype “elevators” and the slug delivery system to grad students.

Henry at his Intertype with North American Intertype guru Don Black, of  Don Black Linecasting, Toronto, Canada. Monotype expert Richard L. Hopkins is in the background with them at the First Florida Letterpress Wayzgoose held in February 2013 at the Tampa Book Arts Studio.

     Henry was a good friend and a dedicated craftsman.  His generosity  in passing along some of his knowledge and experience will be cherished—and he will be deeply missed.

Henry sharing the old technology with new generations.