Michael Etzrodt; passionate for Bucks

Posted: August 02, 2013

Michael T. Etzrodt, 73, of Upper Makefield, a businessman with a passion for "all things Bucks County," died in his sleep of a heart attack Saturday, July 27, at his home.

Mr. Etzrodt was the driving force behind the Bucks County Visitors Center, which he planned and had built 11 years ago. He got the land for the project on Street Road donated by Bensalem Township.

"That was his dream. He saw it in his head and brought it to fruition," said his daughter Maria Etzrodt Gibbons.

His businesses - all Bucks County-based - were Pennbrook Hauling, M.T.E. Motel Construction Co., Motel Management Services, Mall Motel, Neshaminy Inn, and Suds Beer Store.

He was responsible for building the Neshaminy Inn and Mall Motel.

"He felt strongly about the importance of blue-collar motels - that they were the tax base for lower Bucks County," his daughter said.

Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Etzrodt was raised in Bensalem and was a Bucks County resident for 60 years. He never tired of promoting the county and its historic sites, his family said.

"Michael was a huge history buff who had an unparalleled love and knowledge of all things Bucks County, especially his beloved Bensalem," his family said in a statement.

A pet project was making sure Washington Crossing Historic Park stayed viable, with a nonprofit to support it, and that the Christmas reenactment of Washington's crossing the Delaware continued. Both were threatened by cutbacks in 2009.

"If it wasn't for him, the crossing would have been closed four years ago," said friend Jerry Lepping.

Mr. Etzrodt graduated in 1957 from Bensalem High School, where he participated in football, wrestling, baseball, and track. He earned a business degree from Rider College in 1961.

He was active in Bensalem as head of the public safety director selection committee; a 20-year board member and chairman of the Bensalem Economic Development Corp; and a 20-year board member of the Bucks County Conference and Visitors Bureau. At the time of his death, he was the bureau's president.

Mr. Etzrodt also was head of the Bucks County Lodging Association, which boosts tourism.

In his spare time, Mr. Etzrodt enjoyed go-kart racing, eating cheesesteaks, playing blackjack with his grandchildren, and following the Eagles.

"He had a go-kart track in the back yard for his grandkids," his daughter said.

Surviving, besides his daughter, is his wife of 52 years, the former Mary Ella Henry; sons Michael T. Jr. and Matthew Sr.; eight grandchildren; and nieces and nephews.

Visitations are from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 1, and 9:30 to 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 2, at the Bucks County Visitors Center, 3207 Street Rd., Bensalem. An 11 a.m. service follows at the center. Interment is in Sunset Memorial Park.

Condolences to the family may be offered via www.tomlinsonfh.com.

Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8102 or bcook@phillynews.com.

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