Henry R.C. Elser’s cigar went out early in the morning of February 6.
Henry Richter Christopher Elser was born October 1, 1923, the youngest child of Maximillian F. and Helen E. Elser of Greenwich Village, NYC and Lititz, PA. He attended The Kent School and graduated from Yale University with the Class of 1945 after serving in World War II. Commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 82nd Airborne Army paratroopers, he served as a demolitions expert. His missions included jumping into Sicily to help secure the port of Naples and into southern France as part of Operation Dragoon. He also took part in the Battle of the Bulge.
Fond of saying “all businesses are the same”, he started out selling soap and became Sales Manager for Fels Naptha Soap Company. He moved on and with his brother, Peter F D Elser, invested in The Tetley Tea Company and other businesses. Later, after a poker game at The Dude Rancher Lodge in Billings, MT Henry joined with friend and business partner William Goan to be the first to put soda in a can on a commercial scale at their WY-Mont Beverage Company. This led to the purchase of EB Evans & Co. where they developed and manufactured toppings and syrups for the food and beverage industries. He later became Chairman of the National ICEE Corp., a manufacturer and distributor of frozen carbonated beverages, syrups and equipment.
ICEE would become the first commercial sponsor for both the Carolina Cup and Colonial Cup steeplechase races in Camden as well as having been a sponsor for the Jack Russell Terrier Trials at the Colonial Cup races.
With his wife Joan, an avid horsewoman, Henry was extensively involved with Thoroughbred racehorses as an owner and breeder. He was also a longtime member of Carolina Cup Racing Association. They started with steeplechase horses and eventually gravitated to flat racing. His passion for the sport was lifelong and continues through his children.
Henry kept his horses with several Camden-based trainers including his son, Christopher “Kip” Elser, Janet Elliot, Jonathan Sheppard and Jamie Woodington.
Henry was predeceased by his wife Edith Joan Elser in 1994 and his grandson Christopher B. Elser in 2004. He is survived by four sons: Christopher L. “Kip” Elser of Camden, SC (Helen Richards); George H. Elser of Strafford, PA (Angela Scully); Andrew H. Elser of Lewisville, PA; and H. Richter Elser of New Haven, CT. Henry is also survived by three grandchildren: Clara Elspeth “CE” Elser, Matther H.S. and Taylor S. Elser.
A Celebration of Henry’s life will be held on Sunday, March 16, 4:30 p.m. at the Radnor Hunt Club, Malvern PA.
The Elser family encourages memorial contributions to either:
Christopher B. Elser Memorial Fund at John Hopkins University
c/o George H. Elser,
130 West Lancaster Ave – Ste 203
Wayne, PA 19087
The Tamworth Fund at The University School of Veterinary Medicine
c/o Jane Simone
382 West Street Rd.
Kennett Square PA 19348
The Throncroft Equestrian Center
190 Township Line Rd.
Malvern, PA 19355