bought a new Jeep engine and hooked it up to the propeller,
using it to spray pesticides on the trees in the groves.
Not one to let his children sit idle, their father bought an
old abandoned two-story house on Midway Road. He and his
brothers took the house apart board by board with the aim of
rebuilding it on the Guettler property.
“Norbert and I spent the summer pulling all of the nails
from the boards,” George says. “Then they used the wood to
build a two-story house on Delaware for my grandparents.
“My grandfather offered me 50 cents to straighten out a
5-gallon bucket of the nails,” he adds.
Remarking that it must have been built with excellent
wood, the siblings add that the house was torn down years
later and the wood was sold.
When the old St. Anastasia Catholic Church on Orange Avenue
was torn down, George and others took the altar apart.
A beautiful old altar, it was eventually taken to Melbourne
and put back together in a church. The old church had quite
an elaborate interior. The siblings said their mother was very
artistic and made the stencils used to paint the ceiling. The
bell from the church’s tower was taken down and now is
used at St. Anastasia School.
During the 1950s, George F. Guettler and his sons, George,
Norbert and Joseph, along with the boys’ grandfather, Edward,
worked 300 acres of groves, running picking crews and
maintaining the groves.
“One time, Dad took us about 10 miles west of Fort Pierce
to dig up fence posts and load them on a truck,” George says.
“On the way, we discovered that we had forgotten our water,
but Dad refused to turn around and go back to the house.
He dropped us off out there. It was hot. We had our lunch,
but nothing to drink. I even went and looked at the water in
the ditch, but I knew better. We kept digging. We sure were
Joseph, known as Joe, lives in the home his parents built at
the corner of Hartman Road and Delaware Avenue. His father
sold other parcels of land, but had a small orange grove
there, plus others in the county, which Joe worked.
Joanna Taylor, his oldest daughter, remembers a summer
that she and her brothers picked oranges in the groves. Their
father promised them bicycles for the effort. “That Christmas
when we got up, we each had a brand-new 10-speed bicycle,”
“That was a lot of work for me that Christmas putting all of
those bicycles together,” Joe quipped.
Hard work and adherence to their Catholic faith have been
Guettler family staples. Although many of the Guettlers were
involved in agriculture, others branched off into other fields
such as the building trades, land-clearing, air-conditioning
and law. There are nearly 500 Guettler descendants in St.
Lucie County today.
Two of Joe’s sons, Jeff and Conrad Guettler, and a
granddaughter, Joanna, all work for St. Anastasia parish and
schools, keeping everything as their grandfather and greatgrandfather
envisioned in his talks with his pastor, Beerhalter.
The program for the 100-year anniversary of St. Anastasia
Parish contained a congratulatory note from the Most Rev.
Gerald Barbarito, current Bishop of the Palm Beach Diocese,
with a paragraph that appears to be a pointed reference to the
tremendous gift of faith of George F. and Christine Guettler:
“Loved ones who have gone before us marked with the sign
of faith, the very living stones that built St. Anastasia’s, continue
to remind us to be faithful and generous in our daily lives.”
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