whitbeckjr-20150406_20150404After graduation, Harold accepted a job with American Cyanamid in Stamford, Connecticut. But change was on the horizon, and within a year he tendered his resignation and moved to California with his wife and newborn son, Peter. California welcomed him as did Jones-Laughlin Steel Company where he quickly rose to the position of Sales Manager. In 1961 a second son, Clayton, was born and in 1963 a daughter, Paige, was born.

The following year Jones-Laughlin transferred him and his family to the St. Louis office and they made their home in Ladue, Missouri. Anticipating a transfer to Detroit, and missing California, Harold moved his family back to Lafayette and took a job at Kaiser Aluminum in the tin division. After a year in this job he was informed that he and Kaiser were “marching to the beat of different drummers.” Harold resigned. As he said later, “I quickly resigned before they could fire me.” Very soon after this, Sam Girdler, owner of Solano Steel Company, asked Harold to come in as a full partner. He joined Sam and soon after their business was confronted with the restoration of a private rail car and the cleaning of a rail road tank car. The name of the company changed from Solano Steel Company to Solano Rail Car. In 1975 a property in Omaha, Nebraska came up for sale. It had a rail road attachment. Harold purchased it, naming the company Rail Car America and the rail road, The Brandon Rail Road. It was a rail car repair company. In the following years additional repair facilities sprung up including San Antonio, Texas, Tucson, Arizona and Chehalis, Washington. In 2006 Harold retired selling his company to Greenbrier Companies.

In the early 1980’s Harold began collecting Russian art and ancient art through sales at Sotheby’s and through art dealers. His first Russian purchase was an egg from the Royal Porcelain Factory in St. Petersburg which dated from 1744-1916. It was the sort of egg given at Easter by the Czars Nicholas I, Alexander III and Nicholas II to their friends and the war wounded. These eggs were painted with copies of paintings by Italian masters; flowers, cyphers, saints and landscapes. Harold amassed such a collection that the curator of porcelain at the Hermitage came to San Francisco to view it. She, Tamara Kudriavtseva, declared it to be larger than the collection at the Hermitage. They decided to write a book together detailing the eggs in Harold’s collection and explaining the history of the Russian porcelain Easter egg. The book, written both English and Russian, with color photographs of each egg was published in 2001. Russian Imperial Porcelain Easter Eggs, Tamara Kudriavtseva, Harold A. Whitbeck, Merrell. Although Harold sold his collection in 2010 to a Russian collector, the book in considered the “Bible” of Russian Imperial Porcelain Easter Eggs. – See more at: