When it came to civic duty, Elmer John Incheck had a full schedule. He fixed furnaces and pipes, helped the blind as a member of the Lions Club, and served his community as mayor. And when those roles were fulfilled, roll out the band for some excellent ballroom dancing.
He operated Elmer J. Incheck Plumbing and Heating for 45 years in Forest Hills. He served as Forest Hills mayor for nearly three terms until 1995. And he was a Lions Club member, including a stint as district governor, who amassed 59 years of perfect attendance.
"He really was a dynamic personality," said Jerry Countouris, 59, of Forest Hills and co-owner of Drew's Family Restaurant in the borough, where Mr. Incheck held court on a regular basis. "He was a big man [at 6 feet 3 inches tall and 225 pounds] with big hands. And he was a plumber -- and boy, there isn't a job he wouldn't tackle.
"He was a champion of trying to make things right and doing it the right way," he said. "He worked hard, and as long as I knew him, he was about being honest, correct and truthful to the values he held."
Mr. Incheck, 92, of Salisbury, Md., formerly of Forest Hills, died Tuesday from pancreatic cancer with his family present, including his daughter, Donna Richardson, other family members and his "best buddy," the family schnauzer, Chloe.
The son of a steel mill machinist was born and raised in Rankin, graduating in 1941 from Rankin High School. Working in a local steel mill after graduation, he soon would meet Eleanor Chuba, a cashier at a local five-and-dime store. He took a piece of candy in front of her and began eating it, prompting her to claim it could cost her her job.
"If you get fired, I'll marry you," he said.
The relationship continued developing at ballroom dancing events in Kennywood Park dance pavilion.
Mr. Incheck joined the Army Air Forces in 1942, serving as an airplane mechanic with the Air Transport Command in Cuba and then in Puerto Rico. After his discharge in February 1945, he returned home to a job with a plumbing and heating contractor. He and Eleanor married on May 26, 1946. In 1950, he opened his plumbing and heating business.
Over the years, the couple regularly attended ballroom dances, both being excellent dancers, with Mr. Incheck being light on his feet for such a large man, his daughter said.
Elected as Forest Hills mayor in 1986 as a Democrat, Mr. Incheck served until 1995, when he resigned amid the controversy over borough police prohibiting him from going to crime scenes to assist victims. That situation led to a summary offense for a confrontation he had with a police officer after he resigned as mayor to move to Salisbury in retirement to be with family.
"He certainly had opinions about what was right and what could make it better," Ms. Richardson said. "People always said you knew where things stood with Elmer. He always liked a good debate."
His keen interest in community service prompted him to help form and become a charter member of the Forest Hills Lions Club in 1955. He became president in 1962, eventually serving in the district governor's cabinet, then as deputy district governor from 1965 to 1967, then again from 1968 to 1969. Mr. Incheck served as governor of District 14-B, which included more than 100 Lions Clubs, from 1970 to 1971. In November in Salisbury, he received a pin and letter from the Lions Club international president for his 59 years of perfect attendance.
His wife died in 2008.
In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his son, Elmer George "Kip" Incheck of Silver Spring, Md; two grandchildren; and four great-grandsons.
Visitation will be held from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Salisbury, followed by a Mass. The family suggests contributions to the Coastal Hospice, P.O. Box 1733, Salisbury, MD 21802 or the Salisbury Host Lions Club, P.O. Box 665, Salisbury, MD 21803.
David Templeton: email@example.com or 412-263-1578.