Helen Wessel

Helen Wessel

July 4, 1925 - Jan. 12, 2019

Artist and educator Helen Wessel (HonDoc ’17), of South Daytona, Florida, had a relationship with the university that spanned nearly two decades and left an enduring mark on the Daytona Beach Campus.

“Helen Wessel’s generosity to Embry-Riddle encompassed both the arts and sciences. She funded iconic artwork throughout the Daytona Beach Campus and enriched cultural life with an endowment that brings live performances to students,” says Embry-Riddle President P. Barry Butler. “[Additionally] her support made our Aerospace Physiology degree possible. Her gifts to us will continue to enrich our community.”

Growing up in Cincinnati, Wessel studied at the Cincinnati Art Academy in high school and earned degrees in art and education from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture and Art.

Later, she became one of the first students to earn her master’s degree from Harvard University’s art education program. She earned a Ph.D. in Art Education from the University of Cincinnati and then spent 20 years educating art teachers there, eventually becoming head of the department.

Wessel’s late husband, Bob, an economist who also taught at the University of Cincinnati, was a savvy investor — the fruits of which resulted in the founding of the Wessel Foundation in 1996, with a goal of supporting art and education.

One of Wessel’s most popular stories to tell was how she and Bob first discovered Embry-Riddle, when Bob was flying a Piper Cub out of Lunken Airport in Cincinnati, Ohio — Embry-Riddle’s birthplace. She and Embry-Riddle shared the same birth year (1925) and birth city. For more about Wessel, read “Art for Art’s Sake“.