Marvin Stelzer was a man who took action when he saw a problem, he didn’t just sit on the sidelines. As a leader in the movement to clean up Tietze Park in the 1990s, Stelzer left behind a legacy of community building.
He died on Thursday, Oct. 29. He was 94.
It began in his own front lawn. He was unhappy with the amount of litter that ended up in his yard, adjacent to Tietze Park. He decided it was better to clean up the park rather than allow the litter to blow around the neighborhood.
“What he found wasn’t just paper – there was stuff just as disgusting as Love of the Lake volunteers find when they pick up around White Rock,” says Lisa Marshall, president of Friends of Tietze Park, in an email to supporters. “Not to mention the number people that slept in the park, evidence of drug activity and other things that you seldom witness there today.”
Some would have called the city and asked that the park be cleaned up. Others would have called the police seeking enhanced patrols. Stelzer took matters into his own hands, contacting the Lakewood Heights Neighborhood Association to ask if they could help with his efforts to clean up the park. Soon he assembled a team of volunteers and got support from local officials and police to keep the park free of drugs, graffiti and litter.
“Step by step, things got better, cleaner, safer,” Marshall says. “Marvin [Stelzer] continued to put in many hours over the next 10 years patrolling the park, painting over graffiti, repairing tables and more. Out of this effort, Friends of Tietze Park Foundation was born in 2002.”
It’s a contribution that families all over Lakewood will continue to benefit from, thanks to his leadership in restoring the community space he first remembered when he moved to the neighborhood in the 1940s.
“The next time you’re in the park, look around at this neighborhood gem, and maybe say, ‘Thank you, Marvin’,” Marshall says.
Funeral services are set for Saturday at 10 a.m. at Zion Lutheran Church on Lovers at Skillman.