Our Mission
Dedicated to preserving the history and honoring the pioneers and individuals who have made significant contributions to the RV and Manufactured Housing industries . . .

Hall of Fame













Support the
RV-MH Hall of Fame


Click the Hall of Honor Crest above to learn how to become a LIFETIME member of the Hall of Honor.


Click the Hall of Fame Crest above to
take a tour of our facilities.

RV/MH Hall of Fame News

76
RV Historian Al Hesselbart Retires from RV/MH Hall of Fame

Al Hesselbart with his historic Newell motorhome and Charlie, the RV Industry's Centennial Bear

ELKHART, Ind. -- Al Hesselbart, who served the RV/MH Hall of Fame & Museum for 20 years, announced that he is retiring at the end of the month. Hesselbart is well known as an RV/MH historian, librarian, lecturer and author. Al said, "I've always dreamed of having the independence and freedom to do what I want to do, when I want to do it."

Al started his career in the RV/MH industries in October 1994 when Carl Ehry, then president of the RV/MH Heritage Foundation in Elkhart, recruited him as vice president and general manager. "Little did I know it at the time" Al recalled, "but that turned out to be a life-changing experience."

Al remembered that during those first few months the Foundation was nearly bankrupt. As a matter of fact, when Carl joined the Foundation a few months earlier, there was less than $2,000 in the bank. According to Al, the board told Carl that if he expected to be paid, he'd have to raise money fast. Fortunately, Carl was an excellent fundraiser. But that meant he spent most of his time traveling across the country soliciting donations while Al held the fort down in Elkhart.

For the first five years, he said he was a "one-man army" serving as museum manager, historian, bookkeeper, janitor, as well as Carl's secretary. He said, "During this period I created and organized the library from a large collection of boxed books and magazines."

According to Al, Carl had a vision of building a new grand facility to house the RV/MH Hall of Fame, museum, and a conference center with easy access off Interstates 80/90. Al continued, "He started looking for available property and working with architects to design the facility.

"Then, in 1999 the decision was made to begin raising funds toward the new building, so I also became the bookkeeper/scorekeeper for the capital campaign."

During those early years Al immersed himself in this history of the RV and manufactured housing industries by reading hundreds of books and magazines in the library that he was developing and by picking the brains of industry pioneers who visited the facility frequently, such as Hall of Fame members Jack Tuff, Harold Platt, Herb Reeves, Carl Edwards and Pete Callander.

By the late 1990s Al's reputation as an authority on the history of the RV and MH industries began to blossom, and he was frequently invited to speak at RV rallies and shows. He credits Hall of Fame member Dan Holt, editor-publisher of RV News (retired), as launching his career as an author. Al said, "Dan invited me to write a monthly column on the heritage of the RV industry. Later, when I wrote my book, 'The Dumb Things Sold...Just Like That,' a history of the RV industry in America, the articles I wrote for RV News became the foundation of my book."

One of the highlights of Al's career is when he was invited to speak in China in 2010, establishing him as an international authority on the RV industry in America. He was one of four U.S. representatives who participated in the 3rd Annual Hangzhou China Outdoor Lifestyle Show in support of the growing Chinese RV industry.


Hesselbart speaking at the 3rd Annual Hangzhou China Outdoor Lifestyle Show in Hangzhou, China

Al said, "This wasn't just the highlight of my career, but the highlight of my life.

"I was even more overwhelmed when I was invited back in 2012 to be one of the keynote speakers at the 1st National China RV Rally. I was tremendously honored to be invited to speak at this historic event."

There have been a lot of changes in the RV/MH Heritage Foundation since he started 20 years ago. Al witnessed the transitioned from a nearly bankrupt organization in 1994 in the old facility to the financially sound, beautiful tourist attraction and event center that it is today.

As far as his future plans, Al said, "While I'm not looking for another career, I love sharing my knowledge about the history of the RV and manufactured housing industries with others so I will continue to accept invitations to speak at RV shows and rallies. Other than that, there are too many roads I haven't traveled and a lot of fish that need catching so I'm going to get behind the wheel of my motorhome and see where the road takes me."

Darryl Searer, president and chairman of the Foundation, said, "The board of directors and I thank Al for his many years of service to the Foundation. We're confident that all his dreams will come true on whatever new roads he travels, and we wish him success in his new role as an independent RV historian."

If you would like to congratulate Al on his retirement, you can email him at ahesselbart@aol.com or contact him through his web site www.rvhistoryprograms.com.

by RV/MH Hall of Fame
More News
Dan Pearson’s Gift Helps the RV/MH Heritage Foundation Surpass the $1 Million Kevin Clayton Challenge
Pleasureland RV’s President Dan Pearson made a substantial contribution to the Kevin Clayton $1 Million Debt Reduction Challenge bringing the total pledges and contributions to $1 million and reaching the goal of the campaign,
Photo Class of 2018 Inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Gala Ceremonies
Over 400 industry leaders, friends, colleagues and guests gathered at RV/MH Hall of Fame last night (August 6, 2018) to help celebrate the induction of the Class of 2018 into the RV/MH Hall of Fame (Hall).
Photo Still Time to Make Reservations for the 2018 RV/MH Hall of Fame Induction Dinner and Golf Classic
There's still time to make reservation for the RV/MH Hall of Fame's Annual Induction Dinner celebrating the Class of 2018 and Annual Golf Classic Fundraiser
Photo RV/MH Heritage Foundation Announces Class of 2018 Hall of Fame Inductees
The RV/MH Heritage Foundation (Foundation) board of directors has announced the names of those who will be honored and inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame (Hall) as members of the Class of 2018.
Photo Class of 2017 Inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Gala Ceremonies
More than 400 friends, colleagues and guests gathered at RV/MH Hall of Fame last night (August 7, 2017) to help celebrate the induction of the Class of 2017 into the RV/MH Hall of Fame (Hall).
Photo Reservations for the 2017 RV/MH Hall of Fame Induction Dinner Coming in at a Record Pace
Compared to this same time last year, dinner reservations and event sponsorship's for the Class of 2017 are running three times greater than last year's class.
Photo Kevin Clayton $1 Million Debt Elimination Challenge Benefiting the RV/MH Hall of Fame Tops 90%
A fundraising milestone was reached this month when the total pledges and contributions to the $1 Million Kevin Clayton Debt Elimination Challenge surpassed $900,000
Photo RV/MH Hall of Fame Sets Dates and Agenda for the 2017 Induction Dinner
The RV/MH Hall of Fame's Annual Induction Dinner honoring the Class of 2017 will be held on August 7, 2017, at the Hall of Fame's Northern Indiana Event Center in Elkhart, Indiana.
Photo RV/MH Heritage Foundation Announces Class of 2017 Hall of Fame Inductees
The board of directors of the RV/MH Heritage Foundation (Foundation) has announced the names of those who will be inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame (Hall) as members of the Class of 2017.
Photo Searer Honored by RV Aftermarket Association
The 2016 Jim Barker Award... Darryl Searer. Congratulations and thank you for your dedication to the RV industry.
Photo Class of 2016 Inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Gala Ceremonies
The Class of 2016 was inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame (Hall) last Monday (August 1, 2016) in Elkhart, Indiana, in a gala ceremony before over 300 family members, friends, and colleagues from across the country.
Photo Sally Miener Joins RV/MH Heritage Foundation
Sales and marketing professional Sally Miener has joined the executive staff of the RV/MH Heritage Foundation as vice president of marketing and development
Photo RV/MH Hall of Fame Sets Dates and Agenda for the 2016 Induction Dinner
The RV/MH Hall of Fame's annual Induction Dinner honoring the Class of 2016 will be held on August 1, 2016, at the Hall of Fame's Northern Indiana Event Center in Elkhart, Indiana, according to Darryl Searer, president, RV/MH Hall of Fame
Photo RV Industry Lags Behind the MH Industry in the RV/MH Hall of Fame's Debt Elimination Challenge
Overall, the campaign has reached $807,250, leaving a shortfall of $1,192,750 toward the $2 million campaign goal.
Photo Searer Marks Forth Anniversary as President of the RV/MH Hall of Fame
Without exception industry leaders have applauded Searer's focused leadership and accomplishments during his tenure as president of the Foundation.
Photo Canadian Dealer's Bid Takes Project Terry Trailer in Silent Auction
Project Terry nets Hall of Fame $20,300 from silent auction and donation from NTP-Stag.
Photo RV/MH Heritage Foundation Announces Class of 2016 Hall of Fame Inductees
The board of directors of the RV/MH Heritage Foundation (Foundation) has announced the honorees who will be inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame (Hall) in August as the Class of 2016.
Photo Chas. Lindbergh's Travel Trailer Joins RV/MH Museum Collection
The Lindbergh trailer valued at approximately $200,000 was donated to the museum by Californian Dennis Gibbs.
Photo RV/MH Hall of Fame Reaches New Milestone in Debt Reduction
As of last week, the $600,000 note to pay off the David Woodworth antique RV collection is paid in full.
Photo It's Crunch Time for Nominations to the RV/MH Hall of Fame Class of 2016
The nominating committee is especially interested in receiving nominations for deserving early pioneers who may have been forgotten, passed over or overlooked in the past.
Photo RV/MH Hall of Fame's Walk of Fame Honors Past RVDA Chairmen
The new section honors all past RVDA chairmen, the volunteer leaders of the National RV Dealers Association.
Photo Time Running Out for Nominations to the RV/MH Hall of Fame Class of 2016
According to the guidelines, anyone can nominate a person to the Hall of Fame that meets the eligibility requirements.
Photo RV/MH Hall of Fame to Sponsor Family Fest 2015
In addition to the circus performances, visitors be will treated to a vintage RV show, car show, food and craft tents, games, face painting, bounce houses and other activities for kids, and live music by "Southern Straightaway."
Photo RV/MH Heritage Foundation Inducts the Class of 2015 into RV/MH Hall of Fame
The Class of 2015 was inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame (Hall) last night in Elkhart, Indiana, in a gala ceremony before nearly 350 family members, friends, and colleagues from across the country.
Photo Week of July 27 Last Chance to Sign Up for the 2015 RV/MH Hall of Fame Induction Dinner
The day's activities begin with the 2015 Golf Classic Fundraiser starting with a full breakfast at 7 a.m. followed by a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. and then caps off with a luncheon and golf awards presentation.
Website Donated by Web Site Management, Tempe, Arizona

RV/MH Hall of Fame
21565 Executive Parkway
Elkhart Indiana 46514
800-378-8694
574-293-2344
574-293-3466 (Fax)
Emergency Number: 574-293-1191

Copyright © 2018 RV/MH Heritage Foundation, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED