The Life of Walter B Bieber

In the death of Walter B. Bieber, which sad event took place last Tuesday afternoon, Kutztown has lost one of its best known and most highly esteemed citizens and one who was foremost in all enterprises which had for their object the advancement and interests of the borough and its citizens. Not in the history of Kutztown has there been another citizen who was more active in every good work, and it is doubtful if there was ever one more universally respected by all classes. His place will be hard to fill.

He had been in ill health for several months, but was able to be about until a few weeks ago. The cause of death was heart failure, super induced by dropsy. Mr. Bieber was born in Kutztown on September 23,1845 his parents being Joshua D. and Mary Bieber, (nee Bast).

He received his early education in the public schools of this place after which he attended the Fairview Seminary. In 1865 he entered the Eastman’s Business College at Poughkeepsie, N. Y., from which he graduated in the commercial and banking departments. After graduation he became professor of booking and penmanship in the Keystone State Normal School at Kutztown. He subsequently entered his father’s store as clerk, where he assisted in building up a large and ever- increasing business. Upon the death of his father in 1884, Mr. Bieber assumed full charge of the business which he continued up to the time of his death.

He was a man of manifold activities and took a lively interest in politics, being a staunch Democrat, unswerving in his devotion to the party. Years ago he was a familiar figure in many county and State conventions. In 1881 he was a candidate for Prothonotary of Berks County, but withdrew his name before the convention met in favor of another candidate. In 1896 he entered the race for the Congressional nomination from the Berks-Lehigh District and conducted another campaign for the same office in 1898, receiving the second highest vote in the convention, in which the late Daniel Ermentrout was the nominee. For several years he very ably filled the high office of Chief Burgess of His native town. Mr. Bieber was also connected in an active capacity with the old Keystone Agricultural and Horticultural Society of Kutztown, for many years being at one time president of that association. In 1897 he assisted in the organization of the Kutztown National Bank, and it was mainly due to his untiring efforts that Kutztown’s splendid financial institution became assured. He was elected one of the directors of the bank and at the same time its secretary, in which capacity he served up to the time of his recent illness. The bank is a lasting monument to Mr. Bieber’s enterprise. He was also a member of the Kutztown School Board and for many years presided over the deliberations of that body. In his work as school director he was untiring and his sagacity is mainly responsible for the splendid educational facilities the borough enjoys. Mr. Bieber was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Topton Orphans Home since its foundation and took a special pride in the institution. He was the practical manager of the yearly excursions to Gettysburg Battlefield in behalf of the Home, and each year saw the enterprise grow larger and larger under his able direction. These excursions have netted the Home many thousands of dollars. Upon the death of the venerable David H. Hottenstein, Mr. Bieber was elected president of the Board of Stockholders of the Keystone State Normal School, serving in that capacity continuously until his death. He was prominent in religious affairs, being one of the founders of the Trinity Lutheran church, and for nearly a quarter of a century he was superintendent of the Sunday School connected with that congregation. He was also an active member Of the church choir and of the church consistory since its organization and also secretary of that body up to the end of his days.

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