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Augie Hiscano, RIP

Editor's Note: When Augie died right before GSL-XX, on April 21, 2005, the hobby was staggered by his passing. Scale Auto Editor Jim Haught carried an obituary penned by Pat Covert and Model Cars Magazine carried two articles by Mark S. Gustavson. Jim Fernandez produced a booklet memorializing Augie's life, copies of which are in the Museum's archives with another copy to Carol Hiscano. We print below the first of the two pieces that Mark did for Model Cars Magazine. The Museum expresses its appreciation to Jim Haught and Gregg Hutchings. Here's the text of Mark S. Gustavson's piece that appeared in Model Cars.

August Hiscano – a personal tribute by Mark S. Gustavson

Augie Hiscano, who died too early, was one of those giants in our hobby whose passing will be noticed for a very long time.

Seemingly coming out of nowhere, Augie entered the first Revell-Pacta national model car contest in 1962 and startled the model car world. His entry – a largely scratch built dirt track race car – was so phenomenal that the judges and contest sponsors created a special award just for him – "Just Plain Fantastic" – to reward his incredible craftsmanship. Determined to demonstrate his skill and win the contest, Augie returned for the second Revell-Pactra contest a year later with a scratch built, low-slung blue hot rod and shared the top spot with another builder. At this point, everyone knew Augie – he was feted in magazines and by the hobby.

After these back-to-back wins, Augie largely disappeared from the public modeling scene, content with his great work. He worked for and managed Orange Blossom Hobbies in Miami for many decades where he continued to advocate machining work and expert craftsmanship. His name became legend but he was personally known largely to those who frequented the hobby shop.

Fast forward to the mid-eighties when we went looking for the old Masters in our hobby. After unsuccessfully searching for Augie through a private detective, it seemed that a search for him through the hobby shop (named in the vintage magazine coverage) might be a good idea! I looked up the number and called Orange Blossom Hobby. There he was on the phone – larger than life, utterly surprised that anyone remembered his exploits from a quarter century before, and exquisitely gracious. We talked for an hour, he agreed to come to the GSL Championship, and both vintage builders and new hobbyists became acquainted with his skill and charm.

Augie was always anxious to teach all that he knew about scale building. He presented 5 consecutive seminars at the GSL Championship.

Augie went on to win three Best of Show awards in the GSL Championship – a feat that may never be repeated. – and presented many seminars to overflow crowds. The Museum is honored to have on display his Revell-Pactra I and II models, a companion piece to the "Just Plain Fantastic" model, his first GSL Best of Show winning '32 Ford Vicky, and an exquisite '40 Ford coupe built in 1961 (that he donated to the Museum-benefit auction a few years ago).

Despite the passage of nearly 42 years, Augie's 1964 Revell-Pactra co-winning roadster is still cutting edge. Featuring a lot of nickel plated brass and expert custom bodywork, the roadster is enthralling.

But, ultimately, Augie won't be remembered for those incredible models. Instead, he'll be recalled for his irrespressible enthusiasm for the hobby, his high-minded dedication to treating everyone with courtesy and geniality, and his unmistakable passion for machining matched to his open-handed willingness to teach and welcome and encourage and promote the hobby. Everyone knew that Augie was a craftsman with few equals, and everyone came to know that his dedication to teaching and fellowshipping may be his most enduring legacy.

In recognition of Augie's contributions to the hobby, and his strong encouragement of machining skills, Small Nuts company has teamed with GSL to present this annual award to the best example of machined parts at the GSL Championship. Ricky Crouch won the first award at GSL-XX.

Augie passed suddenly on April 21, 2005, just one day before he and his wife loving, devoted wife Carroll were set to drive to GSL-XX. The news rocketed through the hobby, and brought into sharp focus the fragility of each of us and the need to pass along all that we've learned. A new award – The Augie – was presented for the first time this year at GSL, and will be awarded in perpetuity at the Championship for the entrant who best exemplifies Augie's machining skill.

Augie's influence upon the hobby was measured, in part, by the outpouring of tribute and emotion when his passing was known. Hundreds of messages punctuated the several discussion boards as we added his name to the Museum's In Memoriam list. Jim Hollywood Fernandez gathered those notes together and assembled a wonderful booklet filled with those reminiscences; a copy was sent to Carol (along with a card signed at GSL -XX). Another copy of Jim's booklet is archived at the Museum. You can leave a message at the Miami Herald newspaper site until April 23, 2006 by going here: http://www.legacy.com/Link.asp?ID=GB03459020 The Museum will download all the messages left for Augie next April and archive them.

Without a peer, Augie stood as a gracious colossus in our midst; his infectious enthusiasm for high-end model car construction and teaching won't come this way again soon.

October 2002
It is our sad duty to report that four valued members of our hobby have died recently. The Museum wishes to acknowledge their passing, and extend our heartfelt condolences to their families and modeling friends. We are all diminished by the death of every model car builder. In keeping and presenting this list, we do not pretend that we have chronicled every model car builder who has passed on. If our list is incomplete, please forgive the omission and promptly advise us.

So far this year, these highly-valued members of our community have died:

  • Mike Hester,  February 2002
  • Tony "Slice 'N Dice" DelVecchio, May 2002
  • Bill Taylor, June 2002
  • Rick Somerlot, September 2002

Bill Taylor
Without emphasizing the passing of one hobbyist over others, the Museum expressed its sadness to the mother of Bill Taylor who worked for so many years to repair vintage models. Bill also cloned the Car Model magazine
Dixie Bee.

Just a short time after Bill's passing, I wrote this letter to his mother:

 

    Fay Taylor
    Butte, Montana

    Dear Mrs. Taylor:

    It was with both shock and sadness that I recently learned of the passing of your son, Bill. A mutual friend – Bill Maunder – sent me the obituary. I had no idea that Bill had been ill.

    I am deeply saddened by Bill's death and offer my heartfelt condolences for your loss . Bill was a passionate supporter of the International Model Car Builders' Museum and his restoration activities significantly contributed to the success and reputation of the Museum.

    Your son's name has been added to the "In Memoriam" list that is on our web site (www.themodelcarmuseum.org) and will be read at the upcoming, and all future, GSL International Model Car Championships here in Salt Lake City.

    We would be honored to receive one or several of Bill's model for perpetual presentation in the Museum's display. 

    Again, on behalf of the Museum, the hobby in general and myself, our deepest sympathies for your loss.

    Very truly yours,

    Mark S. Gustavson

Since Bill's passing, Museum member Bill Maunder visited with Mrs. Taylor and received several of Bill's models for permanent display. Bill ably handled the restoration of one of Dave Shuklis' models. Bill was also a significant participant in my Custom Clinic photo contest and once won the top award. You may want to search a subsection of the Museum's Custom Clinic page to see Bill's top model:. Thanks to Bill Maunder for helping out with this sad, but necessary, effort.

Rick Somerlot
We learned from Vince Putt that Rick Somerlot has passed away. Rick suffered from a particularly agressive cancer for a few years but always maintained his good humor and courage to the end. Vince generously spearheaded an effort to help pay for Rick's medical bills, and was a close of friend of Rick's right up to the end.

Rick was an early Trustee of the Board of Directors and worked with me for several years to present the GSL Championship. In 1985, at GSL-VI, Rick won the Best of Show award for a subtly- styled '39 Chevy roadster into which he merged Corvette styling cues and equipment from various years. Its dark pearl/metallic paint job, coupled with expert and breathtaking detailing, pulled this model ahead of its very able competition. 

Rick is the second GSL Best of Show winner to leave us; Bob Barnett, who won the Fifth Championship with his replica of Barris' Kopper Kart, passed in 1994. The Museum hopes to acquire and place on display as many of Rick's great models as possible; we already have three: a full custom '40 Ford sedan, a T-Bird drag car, and a Prostock '64 Fairlane.

Rick's passing reminds us all that one of the principal objectives of the Museum is to chronicle and honor the contributions that so many have made to this great hobby. 

Bruce Treadwell
The Museum regrets to announce that noted California builder Bruce Treadwell passed away on November 8, 2001. Robert Woolley read the following text prepared by the Museum:

"On behalf of hobbyists everywhere, the International Model Car Builders' Museum and I extend our deepest regrets and anguish to the family and friends of Bruce Treadwell, one of this generation's best craftsman. His commitment to quality modeling and passing along his many skills to other builders is well known throughout the hobby. Bruce's deep passion for our hobby was evident in the precision of his work. More importantly, however, Bruce was a kind and decent man who will be missed by everyone who knew him and by those who lives were not blessed by knowing him."  Mark S. Gustavson

Olaf Wahl
Earlier this year (2001), noted builder Olaf Wahl passed away on April 19, 2001. Olaf was a leading builder of replica stock builder whose work appeared in the Complete Ford Book.  His estate has graciously donated 6 of his models to the Museum; we express our great sadness at Olaf's passing, and delight that we can preserve and honor his legacy by acquiring and displaying some of his work in the Museum. Thanks, too, to Doris Hoene for her gracious help in arranging this extraordinary donation
.

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