By Rebecca Goodman
Enquirer staff writer
FAIRFIELD - When Sterling R. Uhler moved to Greater Cincinnati in the early 1960s to work for General Electric Aircraft Engines, he looked around and decided to buy a house in Fairfield because it was "just an upcoming community and he liked to be involved," said his wife, Rita.
Mr. Uhler would spend the rest of his life serving his chosen community - on City Council, as mayor and through involvement with many civic organizations and committees.
"Sterling Uhler was the heart and soul of Fairfield and exemplified the best of public service," said Mike Fox, Butler County commissioner. "He was a strong advocate and incredibly bright, and impacted not only countless lives in Fairfield but all over Butler County. Long after his passing, his presence on earth will be felt by thousands of Butler County residents."
Mr. Uhler died Sunday morning of a brain tumor at his home. He was 73.
He served three terms on Fairfield City Council - 1970-75, 1981-89 and 1993-2001. He was mayor from 1991 to 1993. Fairfield saw a drastic increase in population during the 1970s and Mr. Uhler was instrumental in the passing of the city charter that took effect on Jan. 1, 1980. It moved the city from a statutory government with a strong mayor to a charter government with a city manager.
Mr. Uhler did much to enhance the quality of life for residents in Fairfield.
"He was a wonderful man," Rita Uhler said."He loved the arts, music, the theater, his family and his community. And he just loved the Civil War."
Mr. Uhler was a founder of the Fairfield Footlighters, the city's thespian group, and wrote Duty - an original play set during the Civil War - which was the first to be performed at the city's Village Green amphitheater.
He coached Little League Baseball and, in 1974, helped found the first soccer program in Butler County, for which he also coached.
Born in St. Mary's County in southern Maryland, Mr. Uhler was only 16 when he received a scholarship to Johns Hopkins University. He studied engineering there for two years.
He served in the U.S. Air Force as a technical instructor at Shepherd Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, in the early 1950s.
He was a manager for GEAE for 32 years, retiring 11 years ago.
Mr. Uhler was a board member of the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana Regional Council of Governments; a past president of the National Recreation and Park Association and the Fairfield Rotary Club; a member of the Butler County Transit Board, the Mercy Hospital Advisory Council and the Fairfield Planning Commissioner; a volunteer at Sacred Heart Church; and the founder of the Fairfield Sentinel newspaper.
He was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor a year ago. He and his wife marked 47 years of marriage on Aug. 17 - his 73rd birthday.
In addition to his wife, survivors include three sons, Sterling R. Uhler Jr. of Kearny, N.J., Gregory Uhler of Fairfield and Stuart Uhler of Laguna Niguel, Calif.; two daughters, Rebecca Martin of Laguna Niguel and Angela Allen of Annapolis, Md.; two sisters, Sue Kelly of Ellicott City, Md., and Georgia Perkins of Memphis, Tenn.; two brothers, Stephen and Edward Uhler, both of Hollywood, Md.; and 12 grandchildren.
Visitation is 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at Zettler Funeral Home, 2646 Pleasant Ave., Hamilton. Prayers will be offered 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the funeral home. The funeral is 10 a.m. Thursday at Sacred Heart Church, 400 Nilles Road, Fairfield. Burial will be at St. Mary Cemetery in Fairfield.
Memorials: Sacred Heart Church, 400 Nilles Road, Fairfield, OH 45014 or the Butler County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, 155 Donald Drive, Fairfield, OH 45014.
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