Serving Bethlehem 1930 to 1950
For a number of years, Richard Stiles has been on a mission to have one-time Bethlehem Mayor Robert Pfeifle honored with a memorial. Pfeifle served as mayor of Bethlehem from 1930 to 1950, longer than any other mayor in the city’s history, and Stiles was married to Pfeifle’s granddaughter June, who passed away in 2012.
On May 31 a 450- pound granite and bronze memorial was dedicated by Mayor Bob Donchez on the Bethlehem Greenway at Webster Street, little more than a block away from where the Pfeifle residence stood at one time on Webster Street. Donchez was joined by former mayors Ken Smith and Don Cunningham, as well as Pfeifle family members and descendants.
Stiles said that he wanted “to establish a permanent historical marker to honor Pappy’s contribution to the City of Bethlehem.” Pfeifle was known as ‘Pappy’ to family members.
Robert Pfeifle came to Bethlehem as a young man, and was a carpenter. He was a city councilman and became a five-term mayor of the city. Perhaps his biggest challenge as mayor was ridding Bethlehem of the crime and corruption that had made inroads during the ‘Roaring 20s.’
He guided the city through the Great Depression and World War II, and was instrumental in having the Bethlehem Star installed that shines on South Mountain and developing Bethlehem’s ‘Christmas City’ theme. Pfeifle also served on the Bethlehem Housing Authority’s board of directors for many years.
He was known for his common sense, compassion shown to others in need, and honesty. A book written by June Stiles’ twin sister, Jean Pfeifle McQuade, and author Frank Orpe, entitled “Dare to Be Brave,” provides even further insight into Bethlehem’s longest serving mayor, Robert Pfeifle.
A luncheon reception was held afterward at the Historic Hotel Bethlehem, where, surrounded by invited guests, family and friends, Richard Stiles also celebrated his 92nd birthday.