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Tribute to Erich Ast, 2019 Distinguished German American of the Year

Erich C. Ast of New Hope, Pa. passed away peacefully at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Langhorne, Pa. on Sunday, April 28, 2024. He was 94 years old. He was the husband of 71 years to his beloved late wife, Grete. Her passing in 2022 left a large hole in his life – he missed her dearly every day.

Erich is pictured on the far left.

The board and staff of the German-American Heritage Foundation are mourning the passing of Erich Ast, a long-time member of the foundation who served as treasurer, board director, and in later years continued his support as a philanthropist and emeritus board member.  Erich was a pillar of the German American community who dedicated himself to preserving and celebrating his heritage. His involvement with GAHF, exemplified his commitment to fostering cultural pride and understanding. In 2019, Erich was honored as the GAHF “German-American of the Year”, a recognition that was heartily deserved, and which filled him with immense pride.

Born in Romania, Erich was the son of Richard and Anna Ast. Throughout his youth, he and his family (including siblings Armin, Arthur, and Elisabeth) moved from place to place throughout Eastern Europe, before settling in Ansbach, Germany.

Erich, affectionately known as Opa, was a man of remarkable dedication and industrious spirit. After immigrating to the United States in 1951, he embarked on a journey of hard work and perseverance. From his early days laboring in canning and farming companies throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Erich displayed an unwavering commitment to excellence. In 1967, alongside his brother Armin, he co-founded A&E Manufacturing Company, Inc., a sheet metal fabrication company. Their enterprise flourished through the years, becoming a cornerstone of the Levittown, Pa. community.

Throughout his life, Erich was deeply passionate about his work, finding joy in the precision craftsmanship that defined A&E’s products. Erich’s dedication and vision helped to propel the growth of A&E into a thriving business that garnered widespread acclaim within the industry. Erich worked full time at the company until 2020 and continued to come in part time for years after that. He truly loved the company, its employees, and what he and Armin had built together.

Beyond his professional accomplishments, Erich was a man of diverse interests and boundless love for his family. He often found solace in the pages of history books, particularly those recounting the tales of his German heritage. His love for learning extended to discussions, often spirited, about history, politics, and current affairs. These could occur at any time and in any company – you always had to be on your toes! He loved gardening and plants – many hours were spent with Opa at nurseries picking up new plants or flowers for his gardens or pots. He loved to plant and water them and took great pride in the fully grown gardens at his vacation home in Ocean City, which are often admired by those passing by.

While Erich found fulfillment in his work, his heart belonged to his family. He enjoyed many joyful summers at his beach homes in Ocean City, N.J. and Marco Island, Fla. where laughter, love, and spirited conversation filled the air. Being able to see Opa at the Beach House, spending time with all seven great-grandchildren, created everlasting memories for the whole family. His generosity knew no bounds, and he opened his heart and home to countless friends and loved ones over the years.

Opa leaves behind a legacy of hard work, love, and unwavering dedication. He will be deeply missed by his daughter Rose Murray, son-in-law Ralph, grandchildren James and his wife Elizabeth, Ryan and his wife Lynne, and Sean and his wife Nicole, and his seven great-grandchildren, who were all very blessed to share countless cherished moments with him.

Erich’s memory will forever live on in the hearts of those who had the privilege of knowing him. We send our heartfelt condolences to

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