Saturday, August 16, 2014


On August 10, 2012, Victor Weisberger passed away at Kaiser Hospital in Honolulu. Victor served in the Air Force and was stationed in Hawaii during the Korean War. He worked as an insurance investigator, a middle school shop class teacher, First Aid/CPR instructor, safety officer for City & County of Honolulu and for the University of Hawaii, and finally he became the head of safety for the Honolulu Board of Water Supply. Victor was also one of the Antique Automobile Club of America, Aloha Region’s Founding Fathers and the club’s newsletter editor for most of the club’s 35 years.

Victor was born in Baltimore, Maryland on January 12, 1934. He was an only child. His father, Victor S. Weisberger, was an Austrian immigrant who was educated as a machinist and engineer, but he mostly worked as a wrought iron craftsman and as a teacher. (Notable: he  designed and built the world’s first wheeled shopping cart for the Piggly Wiggley grocery store chain and he worked on the restoration of Williamsburg, VA .) Victor’s mother, Marie Eisenbrandt, was from a well established Maryland family. She graduated from Goucher College and worked as writer for several local and national magazines. (Notable: Her father was a successful high-wheel bike racer in the 1890s; he sold bikes and later boats. In 1903, he was offered the exclusive rights to sell the new Ford automobiles in Baltimore, but he declined: “The horseless carriage is just a fad!”)

The Great Depression was hard on the Weisberger family and in 1938 his father took a high school teaching position on the Oglala Sioux Indian Reservation at Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Victor enjoyed his early childhood in South Dakota. My favorite story was how he, at the age of five, decided to start a road-side business selling cactus to passing cars. He gathered cactus from the hill behind his house and set up a makeshift stand in front of his house. Unfortunately there was cactus everywhere—and he lived on a dead end street! His father’s teaching position ended shortly after the outbreak of war and family returned to Baltimore in 1942.

Victor attended an all-boys public high school in Baltimore, so girls were in short supply for the thin redheaded young man. Victor spent his free time riding his bicycle, later a motor scooter, and working at part-time jobs. He did have several older friends with cars. One friend owned a 1949 MG TC and an 1935 Auburn Phaeton. Another friend had an early 1909 Ford Model T. Victor quickly developed a serious passion for MGs and Model Ts. He bought his beloved 1914 Ford Model T in 1953, when he was only 19 years old. At that time a “real antique” car had to have brass trim and gas lights. The car was a running chassis with the body removed and no interior or top. It needed a near complete restoration.

In 1954 he joined the Air Force, and after technical training as a mechanic, he was stationed in Hawaii. Victor drove several “beaters” around the island for a while, but eventually his parents loaned him some money so he could buy a nice used MG. He wanted a MG TC, but the only one available was painted pink, so he bought a low-mileage 1953 MG TD. He met his future wife, Beth Millhouse, at a University of Hawaii dance. She was a teacher in Florida who came to Hawaii for a vacation. They had a two-week romance, which mostly consisted of driving around the island in his MG TD and stopping at beautiful beaches for a swim. Shortly after Beth left the islands, Victor completed his enlistment obligation and was discharged. He shipped his MG TD to San Francisco. He and his father drove the MG TD across the country to Maryland—nearly without incident.

Victor attended a business college and held several sales jobs. He bought a new 1960 Fiat 500. After about a year of writing letters to Beth, one day he rather directly announced that he was coming down to Florida for a visit. On a Friday afternoon he got into his diminutive Fiat 500 and drove down to Florida to see her. At the end of their first date in Florida, Victor impulsively proposed marriage.

Victor and Beth were soon married and moved into an apartment near John Hopkins University. One Saturday afternoon Victor said to Beth that he was going to go to his garage. She asked, “You have a garage?” To which he said, “Yes.” She paused and asked, “What is in your garage?” He quickly responded, “My 1914 Ford Model T, of course.” To which Beth exclaimed, “You never told me you had a garage and a Model T!(?)” Victor calmly replied, “You never asked me if I had a garage or a Ford Model T.”

Victor worked for Retail Credit as an insurance investigator and they started a family. During his free time he worked restoring his 1914 Model T. By 1968 Victor had two sons and the Model T was restored. Beth always wanted to move to Hawaii, so that year she finally convinced him to move to Hawaii—for just two years. The “plan” was for him to finish his degree at the University of Hawaii while she worked as an elementary school teacher—as you know, they never left Hawaii. He missed Maryland but she was very happy!

The Model T was left behind in his garage and the family drove west in a 1966 Studebaker station wagon. After Victor graduated from the University of Hawaii, and started teaching, he bought a 1929 Ford Model A Roaster. In 1977 he was part of a small group of local antique car enthusiasts who formed the Aloha Region of AACA .  In 1989 he sold the Model A and finally brought his 1914 Model T to Hawaii. After Beth’s passing in 1993, there were few things that he enjoyed more than sharing his Model T with people—nearly everyone he knew has been for a ride around Kailua in his 1914 Model T.

Victor was always a kind, friendly and very generous person. He loved all animals, especially cats. He supported many charities, including: museums, environmental groups and organizations which promote peace and social justice. Victor is survived by his sons, Fred and Jim, and two grand children, Sara and Chris. Victor is greatly missed by all who knew him.

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