Professor Herbert R. Lissner was a pioneer in impact biomechanics, having initiated research on the injury mechanisms, mechanical response and human tolerance of the human brain to blunt impact 80 years ago - in 1939. This paper summarizes the contributions made by Professor Lissner in head injury as well as in the many areas of impact biomechanics in which he was involved. In 1977, the Bioengineering Division of ASME established the H.R. Lissner Award to recognize outstanding career achievements in the area of biomechanics. In 1987, this award was converted to a society-wide Medal, and to date it has been awarded to 43 exemplary researchers and educators. The lead author of this paper was Professor Lissner’s first and only PhD student, and he offers a unique insight into his research and contributions.