Diesel industry pioneer passes

By Erin Voegele | July 13, 2010
Posted July 27, 2010

Diesel industry pioneer Herb Wittershiem passed away July 25 at the age of 89. An honorary member and first president of the Association of Diesel Specialists, Wittershiem began his career in the diesel industry as a machinist apprentice with Chicago-based Diesel Engineering and Manufacturing (DEMCO) after graduating from high school in 1939.

While under the apprenticeship, he was awarded a mechanical engineering scholarship by DEMCO to attend the Amour Institute (now the Illinois Institute of Technology). Wittershiem also served in the U.S. Army during World War II, during which time he established the High Speed & Heavy Diesel Training Schools at the Army's Transportation Training Center at Fort Eustis in Virginia. Following his discharge from the Army, Wittershiem established Diesel Injection Sales & Services Inc. in Norfolk, Va., and later expanded to company to 10 locations throughout Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. He later purchased the Virginia Beach-based Automotive Training Institute, serving as president and CEO.

Wittershiem collaborated with other early leaders in the diesel industry to establish the ADS, which was founded in 1956. He was one of the 21 founders who attended the inaugural meeting held in Chicago. According to the ADS, Wittershiem never missed a single ADS Annual Meeting or Board of Directors Meeting. He also attended many regional meetings throughout his career. In 1969, Wittershiem was honored by the ADS with the Henry B. Sirotek Memorial Award for his efforts to advance the association and diesel industry.

"It is with great sadness we announced today the passing of ADS Honorary Member and 1st President Herb Wittersheim," said the ADS in a statement issued July 27. "The Association of Diesel Specialists owes a sincere debt of gratitude to this diesel industry pioneer…Herb was passionate about ADS and the diesel industry and believed 'ADS should remain an active partner in the diesel industry. To do so, it must never forget its basis of foundation is service.' Herb Wittersheim will be sorely missed."
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