Services will be held Saturday, Nov. 11, for William E. Strasburg, 90, the publisher of Montgomery Newspapers for 37 years, who died Friday, Oct. 27, of complications from dementia at Meadowood Senior Living, the retirement community he founded in Worcester Township.
Mr. Strasburg had a distinguished career in the news business. He started out as a foreign correspondent for International News Service, based in Washington, and did reporting in Africa before returning home and purchasing the Ambler Gazette in 1952.
In 1954, he formed Montgomery Publishing Co., which eventually consisted of 15 weekly newspapers in Bucks and Montgomery Counties and the Roxborough Review in Philadelphia. In 1989, he sold Montgomery Newspapers. The properties are now owned by Digital First Media.
In an obituary posted by the Gazette, Fred Behringer, former longtime executive editor of Montgomery Newspapers, credited Mr. Strasburg with pioneering the concept of grouping suburban newspapers with a single production center. The two men got along famously, he said.
"I worked for Bill through high school and college, then as editor of his newspapers," Behringer said in the obituary. "I once tried to recall any real arguments we had in 50 years, and could think of three."
Son Mark said his father's life was characterized by a willingness to work, a seriousness of purpose, and a genuine interest in others. "There are no insoluble problems, only those that take a little longer to resolve. Each person needs a faith in the ability of one person to get along with another," Mark Strasburg said his father believed.
Mr. Strasburg received the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association's Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the industry, and many other accolades from professional news associations.
Born in Lima, Ohio, Mr. Strasburg grew up in Lakewood, near Cleveland, and graduated from Lakewood High School.
He enlisted in the Navy in the closing days of World War II and served aboard the Pocono in the Atlantic Ocean.
Mr. Strasburg attended Ohio Wesleyan University, where he became president of the student body and was active in debate, literary, and journalistic groups. He graduated with a bachelor's degree from Ohio Wesleyan and a master's degree from American University in Washington.
While in college, he became engaged to Sylvia Schweiker. The two married and moved to Washington and then Ambler, where they reared four children.
A great believer in the importance of the community, Mr. Strasburg was "Mr. Ambler," Behringer said in the Gazette's obituary. "He was directly responsible for a new library, firehouse, and the first parking lot" in the borough.
He was a lifetime Rotarian and a founding trustee of Montgomery County Community College in 1964, as well as president of the Philadelphia YMCA.
In September 2013, Mr. Strasburg was inducted as an honorary alumnus into the community college's Hall of Fame. "As one of MCCC's 15 founding trustees, he played an instrumental role in bringing higher education to the residents of Montgomery County. Later, he helped establish the college's foundation and served as its first chair," the college said in announcing the honor.
Over the years, as he saw the residents of the suburban communities around him grow older, he envisioned an independent living facility with medical and dining services. He and his wife opened Meadowood on family-owned land in 1988. He became the first chairman and later a resident.
"I love it," he said. "It is so important that we be social people. You can't sit in your house and watch television. Here we have everything."
In addition to his son and wife of 66 years, he is survived by children Bruce, Scott, and Barbara Tucker; 17 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
The visitation beginning at noon Saturday will be followed by a 1 p.m. funeral service at the Central Schwenkfelder Church, 2111 Valley Forge Rd., Worcester Township, with burial in the Garden of Memories behind the church.