OCEAN CITY – Father Edmond Joseph Speitel, Chaplain (Colonel), U.S.A. (ret.), age 93, died April 2, 2019, at Holy Redeemer Hospital in Huntingdon Valley, Pa.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 26, 1925, he was the eldest of Edmond J. and Lillian Kohlschreiber Speitel’s six children. “Father Ed” was the patriarch of his family, and a father figure to many. A veteran of both World War II and Vietnam, he was a recipient of several decorations including the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star and the Combat Infantry Badge, according to his niece, Carol Lunger.
Father Speitel graduated from St. Helena’s Parochial School in the Olney section of Philadelphia in 1939, and upon graduation from La Salle College High School in 1943, he enlisted in the US Army as a Private. It was during his basic training that he firmly decided to become a priest, and knew that when World War II was over, he would enter the seminary, Lunger said. He served in the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre operations during WWII, and completed his initial military service as a First Sergeant. Father Speitel returned to Philadelphia and entered St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in 1946.
Upon earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy, Father Speitel was ordained a priest by Archbishop John O’Hara at the Cathedral Basilica of SS Peter and Paul in Philadelphia on May 19, 1955.
Following his ordination, he served as a priest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1955-1963. His first assignment was as chaplain at Holy Martyrs Chapel at Philadelphia General Hospital. He then taught at Bishop Neumann High School, then at Cardinal Dougherty High School. During this time, he earned a Master of Arts degree in Modern European History from St. Charles Seminary, and later, accepted an invitation to be commissioned as chaplain of the 103rd Engineer Battalion, 28th Division, Pennsylvania Army National Guard.
Back in the Army, Father Speitel received orders for his first assignment at Ft. Gordon in 1964, and thus began a career that spanned 29 years and included multiple Chaplain assignments stateside (Ft. Wainright, Ft. Belvoir, Ft. Leavenworth, Ft. Wadsworth, Ft. Riley, Ft. Dix), as well as duty stations abroad in Germany, Vietnam (during the US conflict there) and Korea. He retired from active duty as Chaplain Colonel in 1988.
For the next 12 years, Father Speitel held associate pastor and pastor positions at parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, including St. Isaac Jogues in Valley Forge; St. Michael the Archangel in Levittown; St. Philip Neri in Pennsburg and Our Lady of Charity in Brookhaven. He retired to Ocean City, New Jersey, where, for the next 15 years, he said Mass ‘as needed’ at the churches of St. Damien parish (St. Frances Cabrini, St. Augustine and Our Lady of Good Counsel).
In 2015, Father Speitel moved to Villa St. Joseph in Darby, Pa.
His viewing and funeral Mass were Tuesday in Pennsylvania.