Francis W. Ditzler, Jr., 89, of Lickdale, passed away on Sunday, May 31, 2020, at the Hershey Medical Center. He was the husband of Dorothy H. Swisher Ditzler. On February 13th, they celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary.
Born in Union Twp. on August 31, 1930, he was the son of the late Francis W. Sr. and Pauline Deaven Ditzler. He was a graduate of Jonestown High School in 1948. He worked briefly with his brothers at Ditzler Brothers Garage. In 1950 he joined the PA Army National Guard. He furthered his education at military schools specializing in data processing including the United States Army Command and General Staff School. In 1990, Francis retired as a Colonel from the PA Army National Guard, where he was the Deputy Director of the Directorate of Logistics, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment. Francis earned numerous meritorious service and commendation medals in his more than 30-year military career.
He was a lifelong member of the Sattazahn Lutheran Church, where he had served as the church council president for 30 years. He was a member and Captain of the Lickdale Fire Police and a member of the Lickdale Fire Co., where he served as the treasurer for 40 years. Francis was a devoted local historian serving for 24 years on the Board of Directors for the Lebanon County Historical Society, and for many years on the board of the Historic Preservation Trust of Lebanon County. He was instrumental in obtaining State Historical Markers for Sattazahn Lutheran Church, Swatara Gap, and a replacement marker for Union Forge (Lickdale). He located and placed tombstones on the graves of Revolutionary War Soldier Peter Sattazahn, Joe Raber, a victim of the Blue Eyed Six, and Frank Stickler, one of the Blue Eyed Six. He dedicated a memorial to Old Black Joe, a runaway slave who resided at what is now Bashore Scout Reservation. He was instrumental in the restoration of the Monroe Valley Chapel. Francis authored four books of local interest. He wrote “From Slavery To Freedom, Joseph Johns,” “From Lickdale into Swatara Gap,” “The Sattazahn Evangelical Lutheran Church,” and “A History of Twin Grove Park.” In 2019, he was awarded the Paul Harris Community Service award from the Northern Lebanon County Rotary and the annual award for preserving history from the Historic Preservation Trust of Lebanon County. He also served on the Union Twp. Planning and Zoning Hearing Board and was an election poll worker for many years. An avid collector of postcards and historical photographs of Northern Lebanon County, he often spoke to local community organizations. He enjoyed his breakfast at Miller’s conversing with friends. Caring for his sheep on his farm was a favorite past time.
In addition to his wife Dorothy, he is survived by daughters Cinda M. wife of Lynn Boyer of Harrisburg, Greta D. wife of James Rank of Lickdale, and Carla D. Peetros, wife of Christopher Peetros of Fredericksburg; sister Anna Felty of Lansdale; and grandchildren Conlan and Hayley Boyer. He was Uncle to 22 nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by brothers Clarence, Warren, John and Harvey, and sisters Katie Boltz and Sarah Fake.
A drive-through viewing will be held on Thursday, June 4, 2020, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the Kreamer & Lum Funeral Home & Crematory, Rt. 72 & Camp Meeting Rd., Jonestown. A private service will be held, and interment will be at the Sattazahn Lutheran Church Cemetery. A public memorial service will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to his church, c/o Terry Ditzler, Treasurer, 185 Green Point School Rd., Jonestown, PA 17038.