The Rev. John Philip Smeltzer | obituaries

Rev. John Philip Smeltzer, 84, of Lititz, Pennsylvania died Thursday, December 1, 2022. He was born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania to Rev. John F. and Thelma K. (Lytle) Smeltzer. His father served in churches in Pennsylvania and as a chaplain in the Army Air Corps in Europe during World War II. After graduating from Romulus Central High School in New York, John moved to Lancaster County to follow in his father’s footsteps and attended Franklin and Marshall College (where John played soccer and lacrosse) and Lancaster Theological Seminary.

In his final year of seminary, he was again introduced to Anne N. Lausch, an English teacher at Kutztown Area High School whom he first met in third grade in Denver. They married in 1963. That same year he was ordained in the United Church of Christ and called to serve as a chaplain in the United States Air Force.

John served 13 years on active duty, moving from Nevada to Alaska, northern Maine, the Panama Canal Zone of California and outside of Washington, DC. He was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal in Alaska and California for special service efforts.

He resigned his post in 1977 to become an associate minister at First Plymouth Congregational Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. As leader of the Church’s youth ministry, he led many canoeing and camping trips on the Platte and Calamus Rivers, honing his teaching skills in his youth as an Eagle Scout. Later, his ministry focused on pastoral care for the elderly and homebound. He was active in the community, serving on many boards and civic groups, including helping youth and adults in need.

While at Lincoln, he completed his military service as a chaplain in the Nebraska Air National Guard, attaining the rank of Lt. Colonel.

John retired in 2000 and returned to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to settle in Lititz. John and Anne joined the Lititz Moravian Church where John served on the Council of Elders and as usher and greeter and on the board of the Moravian Manor.

He will be remembered fondly for his generosity, commitment to social justice and mischievous spirit.

John is survived by his wife Anne; his daughter Kristen Rolison (Drexel Hill, PA); his son John L. Smeltzer and his wife Cathy Flanagan and their daughters Julia and Lily (Washington, DC); and son Karl and wife Cassandra Cullison and their children Lena and Cameron (Washington, DC).

A memorial service will be scheduled at the discretion of the family. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Habitat for Humanity, 443 Fairview Ave., Lancaster, PA 17603 or to Pet Pantry of Lancaster County, 26 Millersville Rd., Lancaster, PA 17603. To leave online condolences, visit