J. Philip Gasteier, 79, former Erie County Commissioner, and former owner of Gasteier’s Strawberry Hill Farm Market, died late Saturday evening in Firelands Regional Medical Center, after a lengthy illness.
He is survived by sons, Philip A, (Mindy) of Los Angeles, Calif. and Perkins High School Principal, Chris J. (Linda) of Sandusky; AFS exchange student son, Peter Ralston, of West Australia; grandchildren, Matthew of Boston, Mass., and Gretchen, Jefferson “J.J.” and Peter, all of Sandusky.
A 1945 graduate of Sandusky High School, he married Mary Ellen Frey in 1948. Together with their three sons, they operated the family farm, raising and delivering produce to dozens of local grocers, leading to the creation of Strawberry Hill Farm, known for its strawberry production. After Mary’s death in 1980, he continued farming until 1995, as well as opening and managing Gasteier’s Strawberry Hill Farm Market. After selling the market, he opened “The Barn” antique business at the farm homestead. In addition to farming, he was employed by U.S. Postal Service, the Sandusky Register, managed the Greentree Inn, sold automotive products for Wynn’s and worked as sales manager for Gundlach Meats.
As a life-long Democrat, he began his political career as Oxford Township Constable and then Oxford Township Trustee. He first ran for Erie County Commissioner at the age of 28 and was elected to that position on his second try in 1968, serving three terms. During his time in office, he helped obtain the property for Osborn Park and supervised the construction of the Erie County Care Facility. Also, he was instrumental in bringing the Sandusky Mall to Perkins Township, expanding sewer service throughout the county, and supervised the restoration of the former County Home into the current County Service Center.
In recent years, he was active on the board of Serving Our Seniors and the Sandusky High School Class of 1945 reunion committee. He was a former member of the Oxford Township Grange, St. John’s UCC, Perkins Kiwanis, Sandusky Rotary and Sandusky Jaycees. He was an ardent supporter of the Perkins Schools, advocating the formation of Perkins High School and the continued growth of the system. He served as president of the Perkins PTA in the late 1950’s, helping to create the Safety Town program. In 2005, he was inducted into the Perkins Alumni and friends hall of fame.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Ellen (Frey); son, Jeffrey A.; parents, Henry Andrew and Eleanor (Beeken); sisters, Olive E. (Glenn) Shoop and F. Janet (Donald) Meikle.
Friends may call from 2 - 8 p.m. Friday in David F. Koch Funeral Home, 520 Columbus Ave., Sandusky. Visitation will continue from 10 a.m. Saturday in Old Calvary Church, 701 First St., Sandusky, until services at 11 a.m. Pastor Reg Genter will officiate. Burial will be at Sandhill Cemetery, Sandusky.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to the J. Philip and Mary Ellen Gasteier Scholarship Fund, c/o Citizens Banking Co., 100 E. Water Street, Sandusky, OH 44870.