Harrison Gill Wehner, Jr.

Death Notices November 20, 2013 0 Comments

Harrison Gill Wehner, Jr., died on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at his home, Chatham Farm, in Bridgetown, Virginia. He was born on August 26, 1935, in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, to Jane Griffith Wehner and Harrison Gill Wehner and was a life-long member of The Union League of Philadelphia. He attended the William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia and later received three degrees in economics from the University of Michigan: a Bachelor of Arts in 1957, a Masters in 1958, and a PhD. in 1963. He was on the University of Michigan swimming team, including the 1957 NCAA championship team. Harrison also swam for the U.S. Army during his service at Fort Eustis from 1958-1960. Harrison entered business, academics and politics with his characteristic vigor, but he will be most remembered as a steadfast husband of 51 years to Joan, a supportive father of his children Harrison, Ross and Jonathan, and an active member of his community. His passion for living and learning led he and Joan to build (with their own hands) their first family home in Great Falls, Virginia, along with a subsequent log home launched for the American bicentennial in 1976. During that time he and Joan also began one of Virginia’s earliest commercial vineyards in the early 1970’s. He enjoyed playing the piano, flying his beloved Cessna and restoring Ford trucks, including both a Model A and Model T. He was an avid reader (he was in the midst of Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire at his passing). Above all, he and Joan spent more than 30 years painstakingly restoring Chatham Farm. After graduate school, Harrison was hired by the International Monetary Fund, IMF, to serve as Staff Economist for the African Department. His economic work with the IMF, and later as a private consultant, led him to work in troubled areas of the world such as the Congo, Somalia, Afghanistan and Nicaragua. In the 1980s, Harrison became President and CEO of Buvermo Properties, Inc., a European-owned investment company. After leaving Buvermo, Harrison continued his economic consulting and served on a variety of boards, including Palmer National Bank. Aside from business, Harrison threw himself into both academics and politics. He taught economics at the University of Michigan, and also George Mason University, American University, Catholic University, University of Virginia extension studies and Old Dominion University. He and Joan were charter members of the Great Falls Citizens Association, and led numerous efforts to maintain the character of Great Falls including the preservation of Cornwell Farms and the old post office. Later he launched an unsuccessful campaign for the Virginia Senate in 1992 and that same year he served on the campaign finance committee of George H.W. Bush, who attended a fundraiser at the Wehner home during his successful presidential campaign of 1988. Harrison and Joan have lived full time on the Eastern Shore since 2000. He was a business partner with Jon of Chatham Vineyards, which was founded in 1999. Harrison served his community in a variety of ways, including board service for the Eastern Shore Community College Foundation. He was treasurer and served on the board of the Virginia Chapter of The Nature Conservancy for a decade. Harrison was a man of action, not words, and he inspired his sons to follow his footsteps in three very different ways: Harrison in global finance, Ross in education and international development; and Jon in the vineyard and winery business. As his wife Joan wrote to Harrison before he embarked on the Eastern Shore’s Walk to Emmaus: “Honor, integrity, dependable, hardworking, compassionate – these are some of the traits you have passed on to the boys.” Harrison is survived by his loving wife, Joan Kittle Wehner; his sister and brother-in-law, Marianne and Bill Mebane; and the families of his three sons, including eight grandchildren. These include Harrison and Karen Wehner, and their children Hadley, Meriel and Sage; Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio, along with Sebastian and Francesca; Jonathan and Mills Wehner, with children Jon Henry, William and Lydia. Memorial services will be held at Hungars Episcopal Church at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 23. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Hungars Episcopal Church (churchyard fund) at 10107 Bayside Road, Machipongo, VA, 23405. Family and friends may sign the guest book at www.hollandfuneralhome.net.

Arrangements were made by the Holland Funeral Home at Nassawadox, Virginia.

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