Harold Reitz has retired after 61 years of service to the Heintzelman Funeral Home.
During that time, he was involved in nearly every aspect of the business and was recognized by many as he stopped traffic in the middle of Route 309 for visitors to cross from the parking lot to the Schnecksville funeral home.
In addition to his career with Heintzelman’s, Reitz has participated in many public events as PITSTOP the clown and other costumed characters. He plans to continue that hobby.
Reitz’s relationship with the Heintzelman family began decades ago at the gas station of his father, Elmer Reitz, at the corner of Spruce Street and Route 309, Schnecksville.
“They served hot dogs, ice cream, and soda at the gas station,” Reitz said. “Richard Heintzelman would come in with Walter Bard, the funeral director he worked for, to eat.
“I was small and would go under his chair, and he would fool with me.
“We kept track of each other through the years, and he asked if I would like to help him.”
Before he was old enough to drive, Heintzelman would pick up Reitz to assist with errands such as delivering calendars at Christmas and washing cars at night.
When Reitz turned 16, Heintzelman hired him part-time to direct traffic, wash cars, and drive the vehicles the business rented out to other funeral homes.
Reitz worked for Heintzelman’s in the morning, then went to his father’s business, Reitz’s Dairy Mart, where the Schnecksville Diner now stands, for the remainder of the day.
In the evening, he went back to the funeral home to help out, then to the Dairy Mart to help clean up at 11:30 p.m.
At closing time, Heintzelman stopped in at the Dairy Mart for a sundae made with chocolate ice cream.
After his graduation from Parkland High School, Reitz worked for his father’s car wash across from what is now the Schnecksville Fire Company.
Richard Heintzelman’s sons, Robert and David, had their first jobs at the Reitz car wash before they entered mortuary school.
Reitz remembers years earlier the two boys were hanging around while he was washing cars at the funeral home.
“They used to be in my way when I washed cars when they were little,” Reitz recalled.
When Richard Heintzelman and his wife, Jean, retired, Robert and David took over the business. Eventually they purchased a funeral home in Hellertown.
Reitz went back and forth to help wherever he was needed.
He remembers a thunderstorm during a funeral in Hellertown.
“The wind blew the tent away. The family didn’t get out of the car,” Reitz said. There was lightning all around, but the priest wanted to continue.
“We held umbrellas over the priest. That was scary.”
Through all of the years at Heintzelman’s, Reitz contributed in countless ways to the quality of service offered by the funeral home.
Perhaps the most visible of his accomplishments was the exterior appearance of the funeral home with its beautiful flowers, neat shrubs, and well-kept lawn.