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Robert J. Deutschlander, 93, Lancaster businessman, community leader

June 24, 1925 – Feb. 23, 2019

Bob Deutschlander hadn’t yet received his high school diploma when he led the Lancaster Central School Board as president in the 1960s.

That came later.

Like many young men during World War II, he was eager to serve his country and left Lancaster High School in 1943 before he graduated – persuading his mother to sign papers for him so he could join the Navy.

Nevertheless, he was so highly regarded for the way he conducted meetings that the board invited him back in 1990 to preside at a session during a time when emotions made issues contentious.

In a letter of thanks, then-Superintendent Joseph L. Girardi said: “You took to the gavel like you never left the board room and followed Robert’s Rules of Order to the letter. It is obvious that you maintain your interest in the community, and in the school district as well.”

“He would take the people and allow them to speak,” his wife, Karen, said, “and he would also rein them in.”

Active in community affairs until a year ago, he died Feb. 23 under hospice care in his Lancaster home. He was 93.

Born at home in Lancaster, the second of three children, Robert J. Deutschlander was the son of Elmer Deutschlander, for many years the village’s tax collector. He worked as a teen for Layer Dairy in Lancaster, delivering milk to homes before going to school.

He served in the Navy in the European Theater as an electrician’s mate third class aboard a tank landing ship, then returned home to start his own milk business, Dutch’s Dairy, on Holland Avenue in Lancaster.

In the 1960s, he bought Schneider’s Dairy on Broadway in Lancaster, and founded Dutch Mill Creamery, a family restaurant featuring homemade ice cream. Working with his late brother, George, he operated it until 1996.

He also operated three Convenient Food Mart stores and was a member on the Depew Advisory Board for Marine Midland Trust Co.

Elected to the Lancaster Central School Board in 1964, he served for 10 years.

He was a member of the Lancaster Village Planning Commission for more than 50 years, stepping down in 2018, and served as its chairman. He was presented with the Village of Lancaster Community Service Award in 2008.

Mr. Deutschlander was president of the Lancaster Opera House during fundraising and restoration from 1975 to 1982. He was chairman of the Lancaster Bicentennial Committee in 1976.

A member of the Lancaster Lions Club, he was a past district governor, a chairman of White Cane Day and active in the Christmas food basket program through last year. He was honored by the Lions as a Melvin Jones Fellow.

A life member of the Lancaster Elks Club, he had been a member for 73 years and enjoyed bowling at the club.

He was a Mason and active in St. John’s Lutheran Church in Lancaster.

He was a volunteer for Lancaster Meals on Wheels and a volunteer with Citizens Hose Company in Lancaster.

A member of the Lancaster Country Club, he served as its president. He shot a hole-in-one there in 1996.

He built and maintained a model train layout in his basement for neighborhood children to enjoy.

He and his wife of 25 years, the former Karen Small, a real estate agent, participated in the annual Lancaster Garden Walk. He enjoyed traveling.

In addition to his wife, survivors include a son, Ken; a daughter, Dale Stanley; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Services were held Feb. 27 in St. John’s Lutheran Church, 55 Pleasant Ave., Lancaster.

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