Editor’s note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail runs “A Life Remembered.” Each story in this continuing series takes a look back — through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others — at a member of the community who died recently. Today’s “A Life Remembered” is about Donald L. Oberholzer, who died Oct. 11 at the age of 77. His obituary was published in the Oct. 12 edition of The Herald-Mail.
Donald Oberholzer knew his priorities.
Family and church came first, then service to the community he had lived in his whole life.
“He was the first one to volunteer to help out. That was a nice trait,” said his sister, Phyllis Oberholzer of Chesapeake Beach, Md.
And if service involved a lawn mower or grill, even better.
“He loved to cut grass,” said daughter Brenda Oberholzer of Hagerstown, whether it was at home, at church or the Elks Club on Robinwood Drive.
“He was the grill master,” said daughter-in-law Tara Oberholzer of Hagerstown.
“Oh yeah, he loved to cook out,” said son Brian Oberholzer, who is married to Tara.
Donald was born and raised in Funkstown, the oldest of Jacob and Annie Oberholzer’s two children. After several years of trying, his mother didn’t think she’d ever have children, Phyllis said.
They were born about two years apart. Phyllis said they were raised by “strict, pretty straight-laced parents,” and she and Donald tried to adhere to what they were taught.
“He was a great brother,” Phyllis said. “Even after I moved away, we were always there for each other. He had your back. He was one of the good guys.”
Phyllis said Donald was one of the first in the neighborhood to get his license and a car, so he became the chauffeur. He often would end up driving groups of mostly girls to go swimming, to Starland for roller skating or wherever they needed to go.
“We’d pile in his car and he’d haul us around,” Phyllis said.
Once they both became parents, Phyllis said they started calling each other by what their kids called them — Uncle Donald and Aunt Phyllie.
After the children were grown, Donald and Jean still vacationed with them, usually to the beach at Wildwood, N.J., or more recently to Rehoboth Beach, Del.
“No matter where we went, we always took someone with us,” Jean said.
The couple loved to travel to Las Vegas, and often would go with two female friends, which prompted people to tease about “Donald and his harem,” Jean said.
Holidays and birthdays always were celebrated with family gatherings, and for the longest time, they would have Sunday dinners together as well.
“It’s a very, very close family,” Phyllis said.
The family’s faith was nurtured at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Funkstown. Donald, his children and five granddaughters, who called him “Poppy,” all were baptized at the church, and many family weddings have been there as well.
A lifetime member of the church, Donald served on the church council and was an usher, as well as helping maintain the grounds.