William A. Mehler, Jr. died on April 13, 2023 at Homestead Village Retirement Community in Lancaster, PA.
He was the husband of the late Virginia McCluskey Mehler, who died in 2013 and with whom he was married for sixty-five years. Residents of Manheim Township since 1950, he and Ginny moved to Homestead Village in 2005.
Born in Philadelphia on August 1, 1925, he was the son of the late William A. Mehler and Helen Zerweck Mehler. His sister, Helen Fleming, died in 2004.
Over a forty-year career, Mehler held a variety of management positions with Armstrong World Industries, Inc., formerly known as Armstrong Cork Company. Employed as an advertising writer in 1948, he became Assistant Director of Advertising and Promotion before joining International Operations as Director of Planning and Organization in 1970. In 1983 he was named Armstrong’s first Director of Corporate Quality Management. His final corporate project was writing a history of the company entitled Let the Buyer Have Faith, published in 1987. He had earlier written a memoir of H.W. Prentis, Jr., a revered Armstrong president, which was published by the company in 1961.
After retirement, Mehler continued writing for that firm and others, including an unpublished history of Wohlsen Construction Company entitled Up from the Mud, from which he excerpted materials for The Lancaster County Historical Society Journal in 2002 and 2014. He wrote a history of Westminster Presbyterian Church, A Good Work Begun, in1993 that he updated in 2003. He also co-authored, with John B. Eshelman, a history of the Lancaster Country Club for its 100th anniversary in 2000 and wrote A Brief History of the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra for the Historical Society Journal in 2001. In 2011 he published a history of Homestead Village Retirement Community, Homestead Village at 25.
Mehler was broadly engaged in Lancaster’s political, cultural, religious and social service life. As co-chairman of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce’s Local Affairs Committee, he helped spearhead community interest in Home Rule for Lancaster County and was chairman of the Government Study Commission elected by the voters in 1972. The Lancaster Jaycees selected Mehler for their Good Government Award in 1973.
He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra for 23 years, serving as its president 1968-1970. He was one of the original board members of the Rock Ford Foundation and served on the first Board of Governors of the Lancaster Opera Company. He was a past president of the Lancaster Cliosophic Society and the University of Pennsylvania Club of Lancaster County. He was a long-time board member and lecturer for Quest for Learning and a former member of the Lancaster Rotary Club and the Lancaster Country Club. He held leadership positions in a number of activities at Homestead Village, including heading its History Roundtable for ten years.
Mehler was a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church for more than 50 years. As a ruling elder he served many terms on its Session and taught popular adult classes, developing studies of such classic works as John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, Gresham Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism and many books by C.S. Lewis.. He was a member of the committee that developed the Westminster Cemetery and Memorial Garden. He also served many years on the Susquehanna Valley Presbytery’s Committee on Church and Ministerial Oversight. He was a past member of the boards of the Visiting Nurse Association and Lancaster General Hospital. He was a weekly volunteer at Water Street Rescue Mission for almost twenty years.
Mehler was born and raised in Philadelphia, where he attended Central High School, was editor-in-chief of The Centralizer and won a Mayor’s Scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania.
He was graduated with honors in English 1948, having been an editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian and elected to Phi Beta Kappa honorary fraternity in his junior year.
During World War II, he served as a rifleman and demolitions specialist with the Ninth Marines on Guam and, postwar, with the First Separate Engineer Battalion in North China. He was a member of the China Marine Association.
His hobbies included golf, music, travel and reading, especially in the field of American history.
He is survived by his three children: John R., husband of Deborah Mehler, Easton, PA; Nancy Huber, Winston-Salem, NC; and Robert B. Mehler, Paso Robles, CA; two grandchildren; Caroline, wife of Joseph Antonio, Atlanta, GA and Elizabeth Huber, Raleigh, NC; four great -grandchildren, Luke, Emily, Sally and Jake Antonio; and six nieces and nephews, among whom he was especially close to Robert and Marie Fleming of Audubon, PA. He was predeceased by a grandson, Robert F. Huber. He was a wonderful and supportive husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, and was deeply loved by his family.
A memorial service will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church on May 6 at 11:00 a.m. (visitation begins at 10:00 am) with Dr. Michael Rogers presiding. Prior to visitation, there will be a private burial in the church’s Memorial Garden. If memorials are desired, Water Street Ministries and Homestead Village Endowment Fund are suggested.
Wendy Stewart Phillips says
Bob, my most heartfelt condolences on the loss of your father, what an incredible man! His legacy of involvement, writings and of course you and your family will inspire many to come and I pray, sustain you in difficult days.
Evadna Bartlett says
Since meeting Bill after our move to Homestead Village in 2016, I remained somewhat in awe of him …his obvious intelligence, his ability to express himself so well both in writing and discussion, his depth of knowledge of history and literature, and his continued participation in activities even when it was difficult. He was a great asset to our book club, sometimes the only male, and dedicated to the history group he helped co-found He will be missed in many ways.
Drew Collom says
Please know that Jamie and I are thinking of you and your family. Your father lived a long and very accomplished life and did so many things for others within the community. I remember caddying for your Dad like it was yesterday! Please take care,
Jamie and Drew
Louise Colgan says
Sean and I are sending our deepest condolences to all of Bill’s family! Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. We have many fond memories of the time we spent with Bill and my mother, Helen. Bill led an amazing life and will be missed by everyone who knew him!
With Love, Louise & Sean Colgan