beth Guettler, left the family’s flour mill in Minnesota and
moved to Fort Pierce along with seven of their 10 children.
George’s father and brothers, Frank and Vincent, joined him
in work at the ice cream factory and with deliveries. Eventually,
George left Peerless and bought land on the western
edge of the city to begin farming. He raised cattle and
chickens on land that stretched along South 33rd Street west
to Hartman Road. On their arrival in Fort Pierce the family
had moved into a home on South 13th Street and were soon
surrounded by other Guettler families, but decided to build a
larger home on Hartman Road in the 1930s.
Daughter Mary Elizabeth was followed by Norbert, George
Edward, Cecilia, Mercedes, JoAnn Theresa, Christina Maria
(an infant who died the day of her birth) and Joseph, the only
child to be born in the farmhouse on Hartman Road, where
he still lives to this day and where he and his late wife, Ann,
raised 14 children.
In the 1950s, the bishop of the St. Augustine Diocese approached
St. Anastasia parishioner George F. Guettler about
purchasing land for a larger Catholic school as the old school
at Tenth Street and Orange Avenue was burgeoning with
students in the 12 grades it housed. Working with his pastor,
the Right Rev. Monsignor Michael Beerhalter, George agreed
to sell some of the easternmost acreage to the diocese. Mary
Elizabeth, George E. and Joseph Guettler recently shared that
the diocese had been making payments on the sale of the
land, but that the payments were transferred to Beerhalter to
help build the new school.
“Daddy always gets credit for this,” Joe Guettler says, “but
Mama and Daddy were one unit and sold the property to the
diocese together. When the payments came in, they turned
them over to Monsignor.”
In 1960, the new St. Anastasia School was dedicated.
Grades 1-8 filled the classrooms of the new school, built with
a large auditorium on its western end. The high school classes
continued to be held at the old school building on Orange
Avenue, and the name was changed to Central Catholic High
School. Later, Beerhalter managed to build a high school on
the former Guettler property. John Carroll Catholic High
School was opened in the fall of 1965, graduating its first class
of students in May 1966. The old school fell out of use.
In 1977, a new St. Anastasia Catholic Church was built near
the elementary school, along with a rectory for the parish
priests. The old church on Orange Avenue was a wooden
structure that became too small for the growing number of
Catholics moving to Fort Pierce. Eventually it became infested
with termites and had to be torn down. While waiting
to raise the funds for a new church, the parishioners attended
Mass in the school auditorium on 33rd Street.
Family members say that the church officials came back
seeking extra acreage, which was used for the high school
football field and the soccer field. Houses occupied by George
F. Guettler’s children and other Guettler cousins dot the Delaware
Texas resident Amy Guettler Zuberbueler, left, was in town visiting her father,
George E. Guettler, and was able to visit cousins, Joanna Guettler Taylor and
Jeff Guettler, the oldest children of Joseph Guettler, while in Fort Pierce.
Avenue corridor from John Carroll to Hartman Road.
Before the family moved to the farm, they lived in a house
on South 13th Street, which at that time must have been close
to the edge of Fort Pierce’s residential district. Other Guettler
relatives who had migrated down from Minnesota also lived
on the street.
George E. Guettler, 95, recalls some of the early life on 13th
Street, remembering a time when he and his brother, Norbert,
were playing with matches near hayfields owned by Phillip
Hoeffner, who had married his aunt, Marie Guettler, and
lived on 13th Street. The two little boys started a fire.
“We were upset and were trying to put the fire out,”
George says, “when a black Ford coupe drove up and two
guys got out. I don’t know if they were firemen or policemen,
but they got some burlap sacks they wetted down and
slapped the fire out. We still got in trouble for the matches.”
George says when he was 5 years old he drove the tractor
for his father as he fertilized groves the family owned off
McCarty Road, west of Fort Pierce. “He would walk and fill a
bucket with fertilizer from the back of the tractor and fertilize
the trees. I would drive it very slowly as he worked.”
The Guettler family was devoted to their church. The
children attended St. Anastasia Catholic School and practiced
their faith daily.
“We prayed the rosary together every night,” says
Mary Elizabeth Noelke, at 98 the oldest of George F. and
Christine’s children. “Every Saturday, we got clean ribbons
for our scapulars.”
Whenever they weren’t in school, the boys in the family
would go to work with their father in the groves. On their
way to the groves, their father would stop to talk to Beerhal- >>
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