Earl W. “Tuffy” Ibach, 98, known by many as “Mr. Womelsdorf”, passed away Friday, January 22, 2021, in his home. Born in Womelsdorf, July 5, 1922, he was a son of the late Ralph F. & Elizabeth A. (neé Schwartz) Ibach.
Ibach was a 1940 graduate of Womelsdorf High School. While performing as a pitcher for the WHS baseball team, Earl won the 1940 Berks County High School batting championship with a .636 average. In 1938 he helped WHS dedicate Boyertown High’s new gymnasium in the lowest scoring basketball game ever played in Berks County. Score Boyertown 7, Womelsdorf 5, in 2 extra periods. Earl’s biggest sports thrill was to hold Lou Gehrig by the arm while asking for his autograph at Shibe Park in 1932. Earl was a die-hard Yankee fan and a true Penn State football rooter.
Earl spent more than 3 months in the 34th General Army Hospital in Litchfield, England, recovering from a concussion he received while blowing up hedgerows in Normandy, France, with Gen. Patton’s 3rd Army. While serving with the 35th Infantry Division, he earned two battle stars and the Combat Infantry Medal.
Earl married Dorothy L. (neé Wallis) in London, whom he met at a dance. He always told his friends his marriage was the greatest break he ever got in life. They celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary this past July 7th.
Ibach took a course in PA-German fraktur painting with the late fraktur artist, Ruth Ann Hartung, at the Wyomissing School of Fine Arts. His fraktur work has been distributed to many local people and others throughout the United States.
In addition to his loving wife, he is survived by his two children: Loretta Louise Barnes, widow of Daniel F. Barnes & Robert Bruce Ibach; two grandchildren: Stephen C. Barnes, husband of Wendy D. Barnes, Jeffrey A. Barnes, husband of Kelly L. Barnes; and four great grandchildren: Derek, Danielle, Brett, and Brady Barnes.
“Pappy” always enjoyed serving the family grilled porterhouse steaks on his birthdays and attending some of his grandchildren and great grandchildren’s sports events, when able. It is a close-knit family.
Earl was predeceased by a brother Ralph W. Ibach and a sister Miriam A. Boyer.
Ibach served on the Womelsdorf Borough Council for 12 years: 5 years as President (1971-76), and 2 years as Borough Secretary-Treasurer (1977-79). He served for 17 years as a member of the Womelsdorf Borough Planning Commission.
Earl served as President of the Womelsdorf Optimist Club (1966-67); the Womelsdorf Swimming Pool Assn. (1968-69); and also President of the Womelsdorf High School Alumni Assn. (1953-80).
Ibach served 28 years as Deacon, Elder, & Trustee on the Zion Reformed (UCC) Church Consistory, Womelsdorf. He was elected Director-Emeritus. He had been a member of Zion Lutheran & Reformed Cemetery Board, now Union Cemetery Assn. of Womelsdorf, since 1964-present, having served as President for 5 years.
Earl’s proudest achievement was the founding of the Tulpehocken Settlement Historical Society, located in Womelsdorf 51 years ago with the help of some wonderful people. He chaired the building committee when the Society erected their new colonial brick building. He served 3 years as its first President (1970-73), Treasurer for the next 32 years (1974-2006), and was elected to Director Emeritus in 2006. Ibach was the editor of the Society’s 12 page quarterly newsletter, named the Tulpehocken Tattler, published 1985-2018.
Earl received the Key to Womelsodrf at the Berks County Boroughmen’s Assn. meeting held in the Williamson Masonic Lodge in Womelsdorf. He received a second Key to the town from then Mayon Lynn Kreider, at the dedication of the new $250,000, 3 story Lucille Hackman annex to the Historical Society building in 2001.
Ibach authored numerous books and publication: The Hub of the Tulpehocken, Marching Through the Tulpehocken (dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the Keystone Band of Rehrersburg), Zion Union Church 200th Anniversary, 1792-1992, Womelsdorf, PA, and
Tulpehocken Cigarama, (an edition on the local cigar industry. The last book Earl authored was an autobiography, My Life Story, (an edition not for sale).
Ibach was a Charter and Life member of: the Tulpehocken Settlement Historical Society & the Max W. Schaeffer VFW post 6558, both in Womelsdorf. A Life member of: the Womelsdorf Volunteer Fire Company & the Berks County Basketball Old-timers Assn., Reading. He was an Honorary Life member of the Berks County Genealogical Society & a member of the Friends of the Conrad Weiser Homestead, Womelsdorf.
Ibach was responsible for obtaining a Lebanon Valley National Bank branch (now Fulton Bank) in Womelsdorf, serving on the Advisory Board of Directors. He also served on both executive committees of the Womelsdorf 200th and 250th Anniversary celebrations in 1962 & 2012. In 2012, Earl was inducted into the Conrad Weiser High School Hall of Fame. He leaves this advice behind to youngsters: “Don’t be afraid of work, it will add years to your life.”
Burial will be private and at the convenience of the family in Womelsdorf Union Cemetery
A Celebration of Life will be announced and held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Tulpehocken Settlement Historical Society, PO Box 53, Womelsdorf, PA 19567. The Mull Funeral Home, Womelsdorf, has charge of arrangements. www.mullfh.com
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