Jerome Husak, the visionary founder of the American Topical Association (ATA), died earlier this year at the age of 86.
Husak was a teenager in Milwaukee in 1949, when he envisioned a society for topical collectors. The ATA has since grown into the second largest philatelic organization in the U.S.—behind only the American Philatelic Society (APS).
He later wrote, “There must be others like myself. Why don’t we get together and share our information through a united body of topical collectors?”
Thus, the ATA was born.
“Who knows,” thought Husak, “perhaps as many as 200 topical collectors might come together.”
Within five months of its founding, the ATA had 408 members. In its 68 years, it has had close to 60,000 members from more than 100 countries. It is the largest topical and thematic association in the world.
THE EARLY DAYS
In his history of the ATA, Husak wrote the “early days were not easy. Many people had to be convinced that topicals deserve a place in philately.”
When the ATA affiliated with the APS in 1987, it became its largest affiliate. The Thematic Award at APS StampShow is named for the ATA’s iconic founder.
Husak was ATA member No. 1 and the first recipient of the ATA’s Distinguished Topical Philatelist award.
He worked full time for the ATA—as editor of its journal, Topical Time, until 1977 and as executive secretary until 1984. When he retired from the association’s board of directors in 2008, he was awarded the honorary title of director emeritus.
In 2012, the ATA Board designated May 25 as an annual National Topical Stamp Collecting Day, promoting topical stamp collecting as a “vital dimension of the future of philately” and honouring Husak on his birthday.
He died Feb. 22 in Sun City West, Arizona, where he lived since moving there from Milwaukee in 1984. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Sally, who was a tremendous support in his ATA endeavours.
Contributions in memory of Husak may be made to the ATA.