11/04/2016

Dave Kuehn- an ALPCA Original

Nothing is more upsetting than to come on this blog to try to comprehend another death of a friend. Dave Kuehn was one of the first members of ALPCA I actually met in person. when I first joined back in 1994 my first meet was in New York City the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Some how I got my dad to drive me into Manhattan to a community center in the middle of the city. We arrived to ind a group of collectors from the area and surrounding states and sign on sheet. I vaguely remember actually meeting Dave but I remember him showing off rare and valuable Connecticut plates for sale. When someone inspected them Dave gave a brief history lesson on the plate, where it came from and if it was for sale. Usually he notice the young collectors at the shows and give them a few pointers on how to build  up their collections. Dave knew where we were coming from because he started collecting as a teenager himself. Dave joined ALPCA when the club still held their yearly conventions in school gymnasiums, I have heard stories of older collectors giving Dave rides before he had a drivers license. He even rode his bicycle to some meets, it was real dedication rarely found at such a young age. There have been members as young as three years old join the group, but usually the kid's father signs the kid up and pays for his dues. Dave was the older members "nephew/stepson/grandson" and they loved him, everybody loved him. They were there when he he got his license, graduated from high school, took over his father's printing business.
Dave was the start of the third generation of collectors and one of the last t o build a state collection literally one plate at a time. In today's world of eBay and e-mail groups, Dave remained "old school". He once chased a single plate for years, waiting for the owner to sell. Dave NEVER pressured anybody and appreciated the art of the deal as much as the plate itself. As Dave mentors in the club started aging, he took on more of an active role, helping run meets, taking over some, then becoming the Colonial Region's Treasurer. Dave was always good with numbers, h e helped his family printing business at a young age. Dave even printed the ALPCA Newsletter at an enormous discount, just because he want to give back to the club so much. He grew the Colonial Region to the point where the meets attracted members from across the country and around the world. I remember the first time I got to attend the Yorktown Heights meet, Dave knew how hard it was for me to attend those meets and smiled when I walked up to the registration desk. While the other members signed themselves in when it was time for me to attempt to write my name,I embarrassingly asked him for assistance. Without any fuss Dave slowly turned the book around and wrote my name. He started to write my last name and I could tell he would get stuck, everybody misspells my last name, I said "M-A-T-T-E-S" as clearly as possible. Dave smiled kind of an unspoken "Thank you". I struggled to get the bills out to pay for my admission, Dave just said what I heard millions of times before, "Take your time". Ever since that day h e has always remained my mentors.


My adventures at the 2010 ALPCA Convention were just horrible, my flight down was delayed, arrangements I thought were made fell through. When I requested a roommate, only two people responded. In dealing with the other member, he and I got our lines crossed and he wound up making other arrangements, I was left with a hefty hotel bill on my personal debit card, and no roommate. My mother back in New Jersey was horrified, I had to spend my entire bank account savings on a room. Without getting into details Dave heard of my problems and offered to split his room with me so I had money for the convention. When I assured him I would pay him back every cent, he told me he trusted me. He also reminded me he had met my folks many times an d had no problem calling them if I "got out of line". We both knew he was half joking and half dead serious. Dave always felt the need to give back, even though he gave back to ALPCA ten times over. That was who Dave Kuehn was, always giving a helping hand to people who needed it. He didn't do it for recognition, he did it because it was the right thing to do!!


Dave's sudden passing has stirred up all kinds of emotions throughout ALPCA. He remains a force within the club, not because he was an outspoken member, because of the way he treated fellow ALPCAns. Dave Kuehn LOVED ALPCA, you don't need me to write anything more. He loved the members like his own family. His knowledge of Connecticut license plate history is unmatched!Dave grew with the club, becoming one of its most caring members. Anyone that knew him, respected him, a quality few men can claim. I will miss you Dave, the talks we had, the wisdom you bestowed and the honor of being called your friend. God speed my friend!




Side note: Upon hearing about Dave's death there were immediate calls for his induction into the ALPCA Hall of Fame. In order to be inducted an ALPCA member must first be nominated and then voted on by the former ALPCA Presidents. If that happened, Dave would be the first member inducted so soon after his death. I objected not because I felt Dave isn't worthy of the honor, but the 2017 ALPCA Hall of Fame induction ceremony happens at the convention, in 2017 the convention is in Ontario California, 3,000 plus miles from Milford Connecticut, where Dave called home. The majority of Dave's ALPCA friends live on the eastern seaboard, it just wouldn't feel right. However the 2018 convention is in Valley Forge, PA. I wrote the following reply the best I could under the circumstances....it got overwhelming support


I wrote this in response to people's calls to induct Dave in the ALPCA Hall of Fame in 2017 at the convention in  Ontario California. I suggested we wait until 2018 at  the Valley Forge Convention!! 
I AGREE however talking it over with another member who was close to Dave , I think it would be best to wait until Valley Forge, PA in 2018 BECAUSE not a lot of Dave's friends can attend California. I KNOW folks might not agree, but we want to do this right. It's not a matter of IF, it's a matter of when. This is not like me but I'm not going to debate this to death. I gave my opinion, I'm basing on knowing Dave for 20+ years and I'll go along with whatever people decide.



Part of this tribute was published in the December 2016 PLATES Magazine.