John F. Zeidler, 79, heating, air-conditioning executive

March 13, 1996|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

John F. Zeidler, a retired heating and air-conditioning executive, died Monday of heart failure at St. Joseph Medical Center. He was 79 and lived at Edenwald, the Towson retirement community.

The former Lutherville resident was one of the first residents of Edenwald when it opened in 1986 and quickly became a popular figure to residents and employees, earning the title "Mr. Edenwald."

He was known for his warm smile, neat mustache, conservative dress and the straw hat he wore in warm weather.

Said Sal Molite, Edenwald director: "He was the keeper of what we call the Critic's Corner, where he sat in a wing chair in the lobby observing the comings and goings of residents or standing out front smoking his trademark pipe."

His daughter, Betty Lee Jaeckel of Hunter, N.Y., described her father as a "people-watcher. He'd stand down there for hours opening the door for people as well as running the projector when they showed movies to the residents. He was always there with a helping hand."

Mr. Zeidler ran errands for residents and visited those confined to their rooms because of illness. He had a lifelong interest in photography and took pictures of birthday parties and other social events at Edenwald.

He was proud that a photograph he took of Goucher College was selected to hang in the lobby.

"He was a neat guy and a real character," Mr. Molite said. "I always called him 'the governor' because he was active in the residents association, served on the finance committee and really was involved in all aspects of the organization here. Believe me, he certainly made my job easier."

Mr. Molite described Mr. Zeidler's death as a "real loss." Born on William Street in Federal Hill, Mr. Zeidler moved to Lauraville when he was 9. He was a 1933 graduate of Polytechnic Institute and earned a certified public accountant certificate from the Baltimore College of Commerce in 1940. A lawyer, he graduated from the Mount Vernon School of Law in 1950.

During World War II, he served as an Army Air Corps navigator on B-24 bombers based in Guam, Borneo and New Guinea. He was discharged with the rank of lieutenant. His decorations included the Asiatic-Pacific Theater Medal, the Philippine Liberation Medal with Bronze Star, the World War II Victory Medal and the Air Medal.

He went to work in 1936 for Lyon & Conklin Co., the Hanover Street metal fabrication company. He rose to secretary-treasurer and was legal counsel to the firm, now a wholesaler of heating and air-conditioning equipment. He retired in 1981 but stayed on as an adviser and visited the office a couple of times each month.

"He was revered by all the employees here and they only had praise for him," Don Bossle, the firm's secretary-treasurer, said yesterday. "Because of his longevity here he was also our company historian."

He was a member of the Old Lauraville Democratic Club, the Lauraville Old-Timers Club, the Hamilton American Legion, the Waverly Masonic Lodge and the Red Pencil Club, an organization of CPAs.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.

Other survivors include his wife of 48 years, the former Frances Campbell; a brother, William H. Zeidler of Roland Park; a grandson, Garrett Billmire III; and a great-granddaughter, Allison Claire Billmire, both of Hastings, Mich.

Pub Date: 3/13/96

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