By Hubert Walker for CoinWeek ….
If you are now or ever have been a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) in the last 50 years, it’s because a man named Ed Rochette devoted a large portion of his professional life to its success. His decades of work for the organization earned him the nickname “Mr. ANA”.
Sadly, Rochette died on Thursday, January 18. He was 90 years old.
Edward C. Rochette, Jr. was born on February 17, 1927 in Worcester, Massachusetts to local physician Edward Rochette, Sr. and Lilia A. Rochette (neé Viau). His father died when Ed was a young boy, but it was his encounter with his father’s coin collection in the family’s basement that set Rochette on the numismatic path. Rochette left High School to fight in World War II, where he served as an electrician in the U.S. Navy. Once the war was over, he returned to school, graduated, and relocated to St. Louis, Missouri in 1946 where he had met his first wife Faye during the war. He went to college at Washington University in St. Louis – the same school the late collector, numismatic scholar and philanthropist Eric P. Newman had attended over 10 years prior.
It was also at Washington University where Rochette decided to get a little more serious about coins, joining the Missouri Numismatic Society in the process (which Eric P. Newman also happened to have founded in 1935).
Returning to Worcester with his wife and three sons after the death of his mother, Rochette furthered his education at Clark University. He also got his first job in journalism there, at the Webster Times.
In 1960 Ed moved his family yet again, this time to Iola, Wisconsin, where he began working for Chet Krause’s Numismatic News. Starting out as a cartoonist, Rochette eventually became the publication’s executive editor. He left in 1966 to pursue work as editor of The Numismatist for the ANA, having hired Cliff Mishler to replace him at Krause.
He married his wife Mary Ann in 1978; they were together until the end.
As noted above, it is his service to the ANA for which Ed is perhaps best known. Rochette became the organization’s Executive Vice President, a position now called Executive Director and one in which he served for almost 20 years.
In 1987, he was elected to the ANA Board of Governors. He then served a two-year term as Vice President of the Board starting in 1989, and President in 1991. After leaving that post in 1993, Rochette was called upon to serve as the Interim Executive Director in 1998 and Executive Director again starting the next year. He performed in this role until 2001, and then again for a second term from 2001 until January 1, 2003 when he left the position.
That didn’t stop him from assisting the Board, however, as he served as a Senior Advisor until his official retirement on July 31.
During his tenure on the Board, Rochette oversaw the expansion of the ANA Money Museum and Numismatic Library in Colorado Springs, the establishment of the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Gallery of United States Gold Coins, and a revamping of The Numismatist. He is also responsible for launching the successful ANA Summer Seminars, a numismatic experience for which a generation (and then some) of budding numismatists are forever grateful.
Ed’s impact was also felt on an international level, as he made important contributions to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) numismatic exhibit in Switzerland and served as a consultant to the U.S. IOC and the United States Air Force.
Books & Awards
As an author, Ed Rochette is known for columns in CoinAge magazine, The Numismatist, and the Los Angeles Times. A collection of his articles for The Numismatist (“The Other Side of the Coin”) was published in 1985. he also wrote Medallic Portraits of John F. Kennedy (Krause, 1966), Making Money: Rogues & Rascals Who’ve Made Their Own (Renaissance House, 1986), and The Romance of Coin Collecting (Bowers & Merena Galleries, 1991).
We also happened to find an Ed Rochette article, “The Nude on the Coin”, listed among the contents of Eden Quarterly No. 20, a nudist lifestyle magazine published in 1965 – though we can only assume that Rochette’s work was originally published elsewhere and reprinted here due to its theme.
In 1969, Rochette was the second recipient of the Numismatic Literary Guild’s (NLG) highest honor–the Clemy Award–named for its first beneficiary, Clement F. Bailey. He also received the NLG’s Sandra Rae Mishler Gold Medal for Original Research.
As for the ANA, the organization has bestowed many of its highest awards to Rochette, including the Medal of Merit (1972), the Farran Zerbe Memorial Award (1987), the Glenn Smedley Memorial Award (1993), the Lifetime Achievement Award (1999), the Burnett Anderson Memorial Award (2003), and the Numismatist of the Year Award (2003).
The ANA Money Museum, opened in 1967, was officially renamed the Edward C. Rochette Money Museum in 2005.
He is also a member of the Numismatic Hall of Fame, as well as having served on the United States Assay Commission and having been appointed a Numismatic Ambassador by Numismatic News.
Ed Rochette is survived by Mary Ann, his wife of 40 years; his sons Edward, Paul and Philip; his stepchildren Joseph, Michael, Paul and Susan – as well as 14 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Donations may be made in Rochette’s name to New Century Hospice, located at 6270 Lehman Dr., Suite 150, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 80918. The date and time for an upcoming Celebration of Life service has yet to be announced.
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