Posted with express permission of Ronni Deisler, Artie’s wife, and author of this very moving eulogy.
Obituary for Arthur “Artie” Wehrhahn
Arthur “Artie” Wehrhahn, retired film manager for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), fly fisherman, model railroader, amateur astronomer, writer, community theater actor, husband, father, and all-around family man, passed away at the age of 76 on July 7, 2023 following a nine-year battle with cancer.
How do you write about the life of a man with so many passions, talents and interests? His great loves were the family he left behind: his wife, Veronica “Ronni” Deisler; his daughter Danielle McGillis and husband Matt, grandchildren Rose, Sara, and Lily, greatgrandchildren Tyler and Everest; his stepson Chris Deisler and wife Susan, grandchildren Jacqueline, Abigail, and Claudia; his brother, Tom; his sister-in-law Fran and husband Robert; his sister-in-law Joan and husband Mark; his brother-in-law Joe and wife Ann; and many other in-laws, cousins, nephews, and nieces.
Artie was born on February 17, 1947, in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of Arthur and Lillian Wehrhahn of Hoboken, New Jersey. As a boy, he fished the Hudson River off the docks in Hoboken, later extending his scope to the ocean off the shores of New Jersey. He spent many of his later years, honing his skills as a fly fisherman. both in the ocean and at his favorite spots on the West Bank of the Delaware River. In his late fifties, he took up the sport of kayak fishing and became part of “The Wolfpack,” a group of like-minded men and women who became close friends. He also wrote a column on his fishing experiences for a local newspaper called the Weekly Almanac. Over the years, Artie taught fishing and flyfishing skills to countless friends, including their children and all six of his granddaughters. Spring, summer, and fall, Artie fished for striped bass, brook and rainbow trout, walleye, shad, and even little “sunnies.” Whenever he traveled, he always brought a fishing rod “just in case.”
What did he do during the winter months? That was model railroad time. Artie’s love of model railroading began with the first train his dad bought him at Christmas when he was a child. Although he collected HO size trains for many years, he returned to his love for Lionel trains when he moved to Pennsylvania in 1995. He built a 5’ by 9’ layout of a small town with a train passing through it. All of the buildings, houses, and railroad paraphernalia were built from kits he bought and many were named after his grandchildren. The Erie Lackawanna trains were his favorite because he’d traveled the line many times during his youth. Artie took his trains seriously. He made sure to “weather” every engine, car, and building he bought so they looked “real.” He never stopped adding to his layout and planned to extend it before he passed away.
Between fishing and “operating” his model railroad, Artie also found time to act on the stage. He started by performing in original skits at the Paupack United Methodist Church with his wife Ronni. He provided a lot of laughs for his fellow churchgoers, since Ronni always managed to make him the scapegoat. He graduated to performing murder mysteries and plays with the Lakeside Players, entertaining busloads of people from New Jersey, New York, and areas of Pennyslvania with his onstage antics. His greatest accomplishment was playing the role of Norman Thayer opposite his wife as Ethel in On Golden Pond for which he won a NEPTA award.
Besides being a fisherman, model rail-roader, and actor, Artie was also an amateur astronomer with a long-time subscription to Sky and Telescope magazine. He was always ready to pass on his knowledge of the stars to anyone who asked. He managed to purchase a substantial used telescope which he placed on his septic mound (and sometimes on the MoMA grounds) to better view the heavens. Many’s the time he persuaded his wife Ronni to go out in the early hours of the morning to observe shooting stars or some other phenomenon. Of course, he was careful at first to provide her with a blanket to sit on and a coat to keep her warm on those chilly mornings.
Artie’s life wasn’t all about spending time with his hobbies, although at times he wished he could. He came to Pennsylvania in 1995 to manage the Museum of Modern Art’s film storage facility in Hamlin. He was already managing MoMA’s film collection in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and became a valued member of the team who worked with the architects to design the new state-of-the-art facility which would house both their acetate and nitrate films. There was no such thing as a degree in film preservation when he was young. He learned it all by experiencing problems and solving them as he went along. Later in life, he was asked to share his experiences with students of film preservation, particularly those from the George Eastman House. He made many young friends who looked up to him for his generosity in sharing his knowledge. He was an active member of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), and in September of 2007, he received the Dan and Kathy Leab Award for outstanding professional achievement in and contributions to the field of moving image archiving from the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA).
A Celebration of Artie’s Life will be held at 11 a.m. on August 5, 2023 at the Paupack United Methodist Church, 579 Route 507, Paupack, PA. A catered luncheon will follow at The Lodge at Tanglwood Resorts, 9 Crest Drive, Hawley, PA. All are invited. If you plan to attend the luncheon, please call or text Ronni soon at 570-947-3349 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org,. Instead of flowers, please consider a donation in Artie’s name to Hosts for Hospitals (hosts for hospitals.org), a non-profit organization that provides free housing needs for patients and their families coming to Greater Philadelphia for specialized medical care. They provided free housing for Art and Ronni during the summer of 2020 for his radiation therapy at Penn Med.
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