A fighter for social justice, a supportive patriarch to his family, and a curious, brilliant intellect, Daniel Haines Shertzer, Sr. left this earth surrounded by family on November 21, 2014.
Born April 22, 1926, he was the oldest of four children born in Lancaster to Joel Haines Shertzer and Elva Ayres Shertzer. He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Carolyn L. Shertzer, daughter Stephanie Shertzer Lawson; sons Daniel H. Jr., husband of Yolagnis Shertzer, and Jason Haines Shertzer, and beloved granddaughter Isabella N. Shertzer, all of Lancaster; children by marriage Valerie Tharnish and Craig Ethridge of Sarasota FL, and their four children. Also surviving are a sister, Dorothy Skeen, Mission Viejo, CA, and a brother, Jere H. husband of Marilyn Ryan Shertzer of Devon, PA. He was predeceased by a brother, James Shertzer of Indiana, PA.
Dan attended Carnegie Tech on an ROTC Special Training program and served in the Army in Texas during WWII. He graduated from both Franklin & Marshall College and Dickinson Law within five years of his discharge and was admitted to the Lancaster Bar in 1949. He was both the youngest member of the Bar at age 22 and the oldest, having practiced law for more than 60 years. He was a voracious and eternal student of the law and a fierce and indefatigable defender of those in need.
After being active in the Young Republicans, he became an ardent Democrat and, at different points in his life, served as a committeeman for both parties. As an attorney, he was deeply involved in Lancaster’s civil rights movement in the 1960’s. He successfully represented Amish fathers who were jailed for refusing to send their children to public school beyond the 8th grade, resulting in a law that to this day exempts the Amish from attending public high school, which helped to preserve their culture. He was involved in desegregating the Rocky Springs Pool, and established and for decades ran the Pennsylvania office of the American Civil Liberties Union. He was one of the founders of the Central Pennsylvania (now Mid-Penn) Legal Services, which serves those who can’t afford legal services. He loved history and the historic buildings in his lifelong home of Lancaster, and was one of the organizers who saved the Fulton Opera House from destruction in the 1960’s, preserving it for future generations to enjoy. He studied the lives of American liberal Patriots Thaddeus Stevens and Jasper Yeates, among others. He was elected Judge Advocate of the national AMVETS.
Dan had an amazing intellect and was a voracious reader, which made him the best informed person in the room on almost any topic: Roman history, the genome, astronomy, archeology, the Civil War. He had a concise, dry wit that remained to the end, and a contagious laugh. He traveled to places as varied as Europe and Cuba, enjoyed skiing, building stone walls that have survived for half a century, good food and wine, reading, sailing, classical music, politics and being in the company of friends and family. He did not suffer fools, but he took your side fiercely and led his life to help others.
A memorial service will be held Friday, December 12, 2014 at 11:00 AM at the Kearney Snyder Funeral Home, 141 E. Orange St, Lancaster, PA with Mayor Rick Gray officiating. Friends may call at the funeral home on Friday, December 12th from 10:00 A.M. until the time of the service. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Fulton Opera House or Mid-Penn Legal Services.