Rockingham Chairman Max Hugel Dead

By Lynne Snierson

Max Hugel, chairman of the board at Rockingham Park and a successful breeder/owner, died Feb. 19 at his Ocala, Fla., farm, after a long battle with cancer and related complications. Hugel, 81, owned Field of Dreams Farm.

For the past 24 years, Hugel was the board chairman at Rockingham Venture Inc., which owns Rockingham Park. In 1983, he partnered with Joseph Carney, Edward Keelan, and Dr. Thomas Carney to purchase the historic and shuttered track from the New Hampshire Jockey Club and revive Thoroughbred racing after Rockingham had been destroyed by fire three years earlier. Joseph Carney died in 2003, and Keelan passed away last month.

"Everyone at the track is certainly going to miss Max," said Ed Callahan, vice president and general manager of Rockingham Park. "He was a tremendous character and was actively participating in a telephone conference call as early as two weeks ago."

Hugel, who was passionate about politics, headed the Small Business Administration during the transition after Ronald Reagan was elected President. He later served as the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency under his close friend, director William Casey.

Hugel also was a successful businessman and a visionary in the technology industry. He formerly served as the chief operating officer for Centronics Data Corporation, which was one of the first American manufacturers of computer printers, and was the founder and president of Brother International, which manufactures sewing machines and other equipment. He was also one of the earliest investors in cellular telephones because he recognized their huge potential.

A native of the Bronx, New York, Hugel enlisted in the U.S. Army at 18 and was chosen to attend the Military Intelligence School at the University of Michigan. There, he became fluent in Japanese before graduating with a bachelor of arts in 1953. He served as a first lieutenant in the Military Intelligence section of the Army.

Hugel bred graded stakes winners Gal O Gal and Proud Man. One of Hugel's proudest moments came when homebred Gal O Gal was invited to the 2003 American Oaks at Hollywood Park. She finished unplaced. Proud Man won seven stakes, four of which were graded.

Hugel is survived by his wife Diane, four children, and 10 grandchildren. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.