A food co-op and farmer's market were created and a park built where developers had hoped to construct a high-rise condominium building on an asbestos waste dump. The condo plan was nixed by the Ambler Borough Council.
"The borough is a better place because of Bud Wahl," said Mary Aversa, the borough manager. "He will never be forgotten. All you need to do is walk down Butler Avenue and see how far the borough has come. We would not be here without his hard work, vision, and determination."
Aversa said the mayor immersed himself in civic events from setup to finish, "always pleasant and helping out." He often gave the credit to others.
Mr. Wahl stepped down in 2013 after his third four-year term, because he "didn't want to be an 80-year-old mayor," he told the Gazette's Eric Devlin.
Born and raised in Philadelphia's West Oak Lane, Mr. Wahl graduated from Northeast Catholic High School in 1954, La Salle College in 1958, and later, from the Stonier Graduate School of Banking.
He married Mary Jane Leaming in 1959. The two went to Germany, where he served as an Army artillery officer until 1962.
When they returned to the United States, he embarked on a 30-year career in banking with First Pennsylvania Bank, and later worked for Chemical Bank in Ocean City, N.J., and Ambler Savings Bank. He never retired.
For 47 years he was a member of St. Anthony of Padua parish in Ambler, and he walked to Mass daily. He was the first chairman of the Kelly Anne Dolan Memorial Fund, a nonprofit that helps the families of ill children. He also sat on the board of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross, and was an overseer for Temple University's Ambler campus. He was a member of the Ambler Car Show Committee.
Mr. Wahl enjoyed biking in the early morning on the boardwalk in Ocean City, N.J., where he had spent summers as a boy. He liked to fix things in his homes in Ambler and Ocean City.
"He was a man who had compassion for all people and concern for his local and global communities. Ahead of his time, he was an early proponent of shopping locally, recycling and fuel conservation," his family said in a tribute.
Surviving, besides his wife of 55 years, are daughters Elizabeth Kunzier, Mary Kathryn, and Kristina Glanzmann; a son, Jonathan; seven grandchildren; and a sister. Another sister and a daughter, Jennifer, died earlier.
A viewing from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church, 259 Forest Ave., Ambler, will be followed by another viewing from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday followed by a Funeral Mass, both at the church. Burial is private.
Donations may be sent to the Kelly Anne Dolan Memorial Fund, 580 Virginia Dr., Suite 110, Fort Washington, Pa. 19034.