John Stangler, 85, of Kensington, a retired postal worker, a decorated World War II veteran and the father of 13 children, died of heart failure Monday at his home.

Mr. Stangler grew up in Kensington and played baseball for the Lighthouse community center. He enlisted in the Army in December 1942 after trying to join other branches of the service. He was rejected because he was hearing-impaired and had flat feet, his son Joseph said. "Apparently the infantry took everyone," his son said.

On D-Day plus 1, Mr. Stangler was on his way to the Normandy beaches aboard the transport ship Susan B. Anthony when it sank in the English Channel. All aboard were rescued. Four months later, Mr. Stangler was still fighting in France and was awarded a Bronze Star for effective fire upon key enemy emplacements, equipment and troops while under heavy shelling. He later fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

After his discharge, he earned his diploma from Northeast High School. In 1949, he married Helen Kensil, a World War II Navy veteran. To support his growing family, he had a variety of jobs, including delivering bread, operating a grocery store, working for his wife's family's plumbing business, and selling real estate. He also took classes at Temple University and earned a bachelor's degree in 1952.

From 1965 until retiring in 1984, Mr. Stangler was a clerk with the Postal Service. He was assigned to the B. Free Franklin Post Office in Independence National Historical Park when it opened in 1975.

He dealt with his large family with some hollering but mostly with humor, and treated everyone individually, his son said.

Mr. Stangler was an amateur poet, ace crossword-puzzle solver and avid reader, his son said, and was still playing an excellent game of pinochle a week before he died.

In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by daughters Julie Wright, Frances Mikoljewski, Helen Buci, Anne Marie Lewandowski, and Ruth Redick; sons John, Robert, Thomas, Edward, Charles, James, and William; a sister; 37 grandchildren; and 24 great-grandchildren.

A funeral will be at 11 a.m. today at Guckin Funeral Mansion, 3330 G St. Friends may call from 9 a.m.

Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.