Every community has a man like Bill Smeltzer in its midst.

You know, the guy who is always ready and willing to contribute something positive, no matter the time commitment, and the guy who is always prepared to take on a challenge with a smile on his face.

He’s the guy you almost take for granted, because he’s always there and ready to lend a helping hand. Until he’s not there anymore and you realize just how irreplaceable he truly was.

By pretty much all accounts, Smeltzer, the longtime owner of Woodland Contractors, was that guy. And although he passed away over the weekend at age 70 after a lengthy illness, Smeltzer will remain that guy for a long time to come in the hearts and minds of those who knew him best.

“I don’t know how to sum up Dad,” Smeltzer’s daughter, Carrie Boyer, said Wednesday, “That’s really a hard thing to do, in my mind, because he was so many different things to us. He was an incredible father and just an all-around great person. He was known to quietly do things for people. He never set out for notoriety, that was never his thing. His goal was just to make a difference in the world, and that’s exactly what he did.”

In addition to Carrie and his son, Billy, Smeltzer leaves behind his wife of nearly 50 years, Nancy, as well as five grandchildren who were the apple of his eye.

A visitation is scheduled for Thursday evening at Friedens Lutheran Church in Myerstown from 6 to 8 p.m., and Friday morning from 9 to 11 a.m. A memorial service will follow at 11 a.m. Friday.

“He liked to have fun, and he would always give you a hard time if he liked you,” Carrie said. “It was a friendly, jabbing type of thing. And he gave the best hugs. He was just a bear hugger type of guy.”

He was also a devoted family man in every way, from his grandchildren to Carrie and Billy, who have been by his side at Woodland Contractors since its inception in 1987 and who will keep the business going in their dad’s memory together, as Bill wished.

“People ask Billy and I all the time, how it is that we can work together,” Carrie said. “We don’t know any different. We were raised that we are a family, we are there for each other, we stick together. Not getting along was not an option. This is what we do, and always have.

“Billy and I were blessed to be by Dad’s side. I’m not gonna say it was always easy, but we were blessed to always be by each other’s side and to have each other’s backs.”

Smeltzer was also beloved by those he did business with and served with in the community. And his community endeavors were many, including serving as board president of the Lebanon County Historical Society and a board member of the Lebanon Community Library.

Former Lebanon city councilman Richard Wertz served with Smeltzer on the historical society board and got to know him prior to that as a loyal customer of his business, Wertz Candies.

“I first met Bill as a longtime customer of our candy shop,” Wertz remembered. “He would purchase 1-pound boxes of Wilbur Buds to give away to friends, family, and clients. He personally loved the semi-sweet Wilbur Buds. I was invited to join the board of the LCHS in 2016. Bill was a member of the board when I joined. He made me feel very welcome along with the other members of the board.

“At that time, the Krall Barn was a work in progress. Bill, with his love of history was the go-to guy for this endeavor. His wealth of construction knowledge was something that the whole board respected. Every board meeting included updates on the project and what the next step would be with Bill explaining everything in detail. I had to laugh at Bill when we had meetings on nights that the Phillies were in the playoffs. He and I were huge Phillies fan and he would say we had to end the meeting by 8 to get home in time to watch the game.”

Bob Hoffman of Beers/Hoffman, an architectural firm that worked closely with Smeltzer on a number of building projects, also had great respect for Smeltzer, both as a businessman and a friend.

“Bill was a special friend,” Hoffman said. “I had the privilege of working with him on many architectural projects over the years and our professional relationship transformed into an enduring friendship. Bill was always upbeat and positive no matter the challenge. We collaborated on many very successful projects and each and everyone was a pleasure.

“Bill’s community involvement was great. Few people knew he was president of the library board, historical society, and his church council. He was generous to a fault. During his illness he was tenderly cared for by his wife Nancy and family. I visited often and never heard a complaint or negative thought from his lips.”

Hoffman added: “He will be missed by many. My days will be less bright without hearing his cheerful voice.”

His voice may now be silenced, but his words about the importance of community still ring in his children’s ears.

“His line to Billy and I was, ‘We’re in this to make a living, not to make a killing,’” Carrie said. “If we can’t support the community we’re in while we’re doing it, what’s the point in doing it?”

Read Bill Smeltzer’s full obituary here.

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Pat Huggins covered local sports for the Lebanon Daily News for almost 25 years, beginning in January of 1999. Pat was born and raised in Lebanon County and is a 1987 graduate of Lebanon High School and a 1991 alum of Elizabethtown College. A huge Phillies and 76ers fan, Pat spends his spare time on...


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