Herman and Doris Hassinger, air crash victims

Herman and Doris Hassinger. ROYAL BRUCE MONTGOMERY
Herman and Doris Hassinger. ROYAL BRUCE MONTGOMERY
Posted: November 01, 2012

Herman Hassinger, an architect, and his wife, Doris, who lived in Moorestown before moving to Block Island, R.I., died Thursday, Oct. 25, in a small-airplane crash, a family spokesman said Wednesday.

The two died of injuries from when their single-engine Beechcraft hit a light pole along I-93 in Hooksett, N.H., sending it into nearby woods. They were going to a board meeting at the private New Hampton (N.H.) School.

Mr. Hassinger, 83, a retired Coast Guard commander, had operated Herman Hassinger Architects of Moorestown.

He was known for religious architecture, including work on more than 200 churches. He designed new churches, renovated old ones, and furnished church interiors, his family said.

"My dad was all about his work," said his daughter, Judi Hall. "He was never without a pencil in his hand and writing on a paper napkin, a placemat or a church bulletin."

One of his creations was St. Matthew Lutheran Church, his home congregation in Moorestown. "He put a lot of himself into that building," Hall said.

His most recent project was a new sanctuary for Good Shepherd Lutheran Church of Kingston, R.I., where a funeral service for the couple will be held Nov. 10.

Hall said the church was on a tight budget, so she and her father shopped for affordable lighting; he finally chose a cooking item - the wok - to sit behind the sanctuary lights.

"He insisted on leaving the handles on the woks so everybody would know what they were," Hall said.

In another church, he adapted a teak salad bowl to be part of the baptismal font. In a third, he camouflaged a smoke detector above the altar by surrounding it with colored tiles.

"If you have to hide something, hide it in plain sight," Hall said her father told her.

While Mr. Hassinger could sometimes be opinionated, Mrs. Hassinger was good-natured, personable and "a rock," Hall said.

"My dad couldn't be my dad without my mom. She really let him be who he wanted to be," said Hall.

"All of us thought he would go first, and my mom would be around for a while. It would give my mom that period of time to be herself without my dad. But the fact that they both went together - they are together - maybe that's good."

Mrs. Hassinger, also 83, was a community volunteer. She served with the Burlington County Hospital Auxiliary and volunteered at the Philadelphia Museum of Art while raising a family in Moorestown. In 2000, the Hassingers made Block Island their permanent home.

Mr. Hassinger was born in Germany, his wife in Philadelphia. The two met in fourth grade in Mount Airy and married at age 21.

Mr. Hassinger graduated from Central High School and the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor's degree in architecture. Mrs. Hassinger was a graduate of Philadelphia High School for Girls and earned an associate degree from Drexel University in secretarial skills.

Their love of art and culture spurred them to travel the world. As members of the International Flying Rotarians, they often flew their plane throughout the United States, and to Canada, the Bahamas, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

Mr. Hassinger had more than 45 years of experience as a pilot. Mrs. Hassinger was also a licensed pilot for several years, and periodically took instruction to qualify as his copilot.

Mr. Hassinger was a fellow of the American Institute of Architects and in 1971 served as president of the organization's Philadelphia chapter.

His work also included commercial buildings and residences, mostly in Moorestown and Block Island. He earned awards for churches, offices, school buildings, and his home on Block Island.

The Hassingers shared an interest in education and literacy. Mrs. Hassinger worked on committees at the Art Museum and at the schools and churches that she attended, and on Block Island as a literacy volunteer. She recently completed a term on the board of trustees of the island library.

Mr. Hassinger served for more than 30 years on the board at New Hampton, where two of his children and one grandchild completed their high school education.

Surviving in addition to his daughter, are a son John; two other daughters, Virginia and Elizabeth; 12 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. Mrs. Hassinger also is survived by a brother, Bruce Lighty.

A memorial service will be at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, at St. Andrew Catholic Church, Chapel Street, New Shoreham, Block Island.

The Nov. 10 funeral service will be at 11 a.m. at Good Shepherd, 383 Old North Rd., Kingston.

Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 215-313-3006 or bcook@phillynews.com.

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