|Birth: ||Sep. 16, 1897|
|Death: ||Apr. 18, 1961|
Once in a while, I pull out the one picture of my grandpa and I together. I am on his lap and look like I'm on the verge of fussing, while he is smiling a little uneasily, but tenderly dangling his watch to distract me. All our family wishes he'd lived longer. My generation calls him "Grandpa Gil" to distinguish him from my father, also Gil. Both Gils were easy to love - jolly, concerned for you, wanting to keep your spirits up. If I mention my grandpa to anyone who knew him, they say "Everybody liked him" - which is what I hear about my dad too.
Gilbert Romberger (aka Gilbert A. Romberger, Gilbert Allen Romberger) was the son of Daniel H. Romberger and Minnie Kepler Romberger. He was the brother of May and Amy. Gilbert grew up first in Williamstown, Pennsylvania where his father Daniel H. Romberger was school director, and later in Harrisburg for about 10 years, and then Allentown.
He was the husband of Fay Schell Meckley Romberger whom he may have met while making sales calls for his father's later cast stone business. Fay was the stepdaughter of a gentleman who had a construction business for a few years.
Gilbert was father of Gilbert Daniel Romberger, Joyce Carolyn Romberger Fenstermacher, and Janet Fay Romberger Bittner.
Gilbert was the second owner of Romberger Manufacturing Company aka Romberger Cast Stone, Aubrey Street, East Allentown, Pennsylvania, which had been founded by his father Daniel. For 36 years he oversaw the family business until his passing. He inherited a thriving business that had found most of its profits in manufacturing and World War I, and during his years, it focused more on homes, schools, businesses and houses of worship. By all accounts a charming man, he made many connections in town and through his long association with the Masons.
He served in his church as well. As a young man, his parents transferred to Christ Lutheran Church in Allentown from their previous Allentown church, Saint John's, being approved by the vestry January 13, 1919. June 12, 1927 the church vestry moved to replace the pavements, cement landing area, and steps at the front of the church, and the stairs were done by Romberger Cast Stone. The church might have been pleased with the work; November 2 of the same year, Gilbert was nominated to the Vestry and named a Deacon, a role he undertook for one year.
In his youth, Gilbert was a champion doubles tennis player with his sister May. In fact, he won an Allentown city title on the morning of the day he later drove to Philadelphia to marry his wife Fay. That big day was September 9, 1922, the honors done by his old pastor, E. E. Fischer who was by then teaching at the Philadelphia (Mount Airy) Lutheran Seminary. It's not clear to me how he managed to do this - play tennis matches, drive over an hour to Philadelphia and marry on the same day - because a look at his marriage license certificate reveals that it was applied for on the very same day as well! When did he work in a trip to the courthouse?
Besides the above, it must have been an exciting year for another reason; he got a new home. His marriage license from September of 1922 shows his address as 213 S. Madison Street in Allentown, but the home he raised his children in at 2442 Union (later changed to 2452 Union) has a decorative cast stone plate on it showing his initials and the year of 1922. I do not know if the home were finished before or after the nuptuals, but it was the first of the so-called "Romberger Homes" built in Allentown by his father for each of his kids and himself. The home and the plate with the date are shown in the pictures accompanying this memorial.
Older family members remember his having many trophies and loving cups from his tennis winnings. He appreciated the sport, but apparently was not awed by his spoils - a grandson of one of his sisters recalls a few were used as ashtrays!
A 32nd degree Mason, he was also a hunter and fisherman, once making the local paper for bagging a nice buck at Peck's Pond. He is remembered also for his teasing, jovial nature (which all three of his kids inherited), and his love of ice cream, which my dear dad definitely inherited. I'm told he had a large separate ice-box that was always well-stocked. We have some terrific and funny pictures of my grandpa showing his upbeat nature. In one he stands in his large Victory Garden behind his house. In another, he wears a jaunty straw hat, a cigarette in his fingers, as he lays the flagstone porch behind his home. In another, he's pretending to be passed out from exhaustion, a rake laying across his chest while he lays in the yard in a chaise lounge... but we're not fooled, as he's in a suit and tie. It's pictures like these that tell me clearly where my dad got his "hail fellow well met" attitude, his desire to make others laugh, and make fun of himself.
Grandpa Gil was a devoted, spoiling husband to his wife, Fay. She had a taste for life's finer things which he greatly encouraged, especially after her diagnosis with scleroderma. In the ten years that remained for her, it seems he enjoyed indulging Fay in silver, fur collars, good home furnishings, and her collection of small china shoes and slippers.
Gilbert's death may have been staged very early in his life. It's not known to me if the family understood the possible progression of his medical conditions. There are pictures of the family on the porch with a sign in the window stating the presence of Scarlet fever, a Streptococcus infection. As a young man, my grandpa also had rheumatic fever, which follows a Streptococcus infection by about 3 weeks. Rheumatic fever often inflames the heart, damaging it, and frequently damages the heart valves. It is a known series of events now, though I do not know if they knew of it then, this cascade of Streptococcus, followed by rheumatic fever, and heart or valve damage.
It's funny to think such a vital man was playing competative tennis and later running a company with this sort of medical stage set within him, but he did. In his later years, Gilbert took nitroglycerin pills for chest pain from time to time. One of my cousins can recall him having chest pains and passing out at a high school football game they were all watching, and once he came to, taking his pill and laughing it off.
He died of an apparent heart attack. Whatever the cause, one morning my grandpa simply failed to show up at the family business. Concerned, my dad went to his house and found him gone, laying across the bed, apparently dressing to go to work.
Gilbert A. Romberger of 2442 Union St., Allentown, president of Allentown's Romberger Cast Stone Co. died at his home yesterday. He was 63.
Born in Williamstown PA, he was a son of the late Daniel and Minnie (Kepler) Romberger. The stone firm was founded by his father in 1914. (sic - his father Daniel had been in cast stone in Harrisburg by 1904 with a partner, but began his own business in 1914 in Allentown.)
He was a member of Christ Lutheran Church, Allentown.
He belonged to Barger Lodge 333, F&AM; Lehigh Consistory; Allentown Elks Lodge 130, and the Rajah Temple.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Fay M. (Meckley) Romberger.
Surviving are a son, Gilbert D., and two daughters, Joyce, wife of Dr. Robert Fenstermacher, and Janet, wife of Frank Bittner, all of Allentown; five grandchildren,; two sisters, May, wife of Arthur Gackenbach, and Mrs. Amy Strobel, both of Allentown.
Services will be Friday at the convenience of the family in the J. S. Burkholder Funeral Home, 1601 Hamilton St., Allentown. Viewing will be 7-8 pm tomorrow.
(Morning Call, Wednesday April 19, 1961, Allentown PA.)
ROMBERGER - Gilbert A., 63 years, 7 months, 2 days, of 2442 Union St., Allentown, April 18, 1961; husband of the late Fay M. (Meckley) Romberger. Services Friday, convenience of the family, J. S. Burkholder Funeral Home Inc., 1601 Hamilton St., Allentown. Interment Greenwood Cemetery, Allentown. Call 7-8 pm Thursday. Contributions may be sent to the Lehigh Vally Heart Association.
From the family record of the funeral-
- Nevin J Follweiler (at the time, Worshipful Master of Barger Lodge 333, the youngest master of the lodge ever.)
- Herman D. Moose (later a Worshipful Master of the same Barger Lodge 333.)
- Jack D. Ferlino (later a Worshipful Master of the same Barger Lodge 333.)
- Edward Schmaldinst (brother Mason, who died Feb 2007.)
- John J. Edwards (brother Mason.)
Officiated by Dr. Henry J. Pflum from Christ Lutheran Church in Allentown.
Daniel Henry Romberger (1858 - 1935)
Minnie Kepler Romberger (1867 - 1936)
Fay Schell Meckley Romberger (1903 - 1954)
Gilbert Daniel Romberger (1923 - 2006)*
Joyce Carolyn Romberger Fenstermacher (1925 - 1985)*
Janet Fay Romberger Bittner (1929 - 2011)*
Amy Irene Romberger Strobel (1896 - 1965)*
Gilbert Allen Romberger (1897 - 1961)
Edna May Romberger Gackenbach (1900 - 1984)*
Created by: sr/ks
Record added: Jun 20, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 14662895