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Armin Ast

Armin Ast of Ivyland, died peacefully on Sunday, April 30, 2023 at The Bridges at Warwick. He was 91. He was the beloved husband of 66 years to the late Ingeborg G. Ast. Born on April 5th, 1932 in Bukovina (present day northeastern Romania) Armin was the son of the late Richard and Anna Ast. 

Early childhood saw him, along with his older brothers Erich and Arthur, assisting and maintaining the family farm while attending early grade school.  The farmstead was located in Illischestie, a German-inhabited village of Bukovina.  In 1940, during the onset of World War II, the family was evacuated under German authority from their home.  For a short time they lived in transit, under German protection, in Austria, then Poland.  The Ast family eventually settled during the War in Skalsko, a village located in the German-speaking region of Sudeten, Czechia (Czech Republic).  They lived on a rented farm, again cultivating the land, managing dairy farming and light animal husbandry.  Armin continued schooling, began his skill at soccer, while learning the Czech language alongside their traditional German education.  He maintained a grasp of the Czech language his whole life.  These early days established Armin to be the hands-on, practical minded, curious and educated young man he’d demonstrate throughout his entire adult life.

In the Spring of 1945, Armin’s father, keen to the detriments and increasing dangers of the War, packed procurements, horses and wagons to move his family imminently into further safety.  Armin would often recount the harrowing 4 weeks that unfolded.  His father led a “wagon train” for fellow villagers and family, stealthily eastward towards the German border.  Despite hardships in such transit and at times frightening air raids, everyone managed to survive, unscathed.  Armin’s family and refugees were held in an American prisoner camp in Pilsen, Czech Republic, where they were cared for in safety.  After a few weeks they found themselves freed, boarding a train for East Germany.  The Asts would make settlement in Ansbach, where Richard and Anna Ast permanently settled.  Armin and his brothers would soon be blessed with their fourth sibling - their sister Elisabeth.  He would become proficient with English and Latin in Ansbach’s schools, remaining an inspired soccer player.

In early 1951, Armin emigrated to America seeking better opportunity and prosperity, with a desire to further his education.  Upon landing on American shores he immediately caught the ear of a recruiter from Valley Forge Military Academy and College, no sooner finding himself sharing a room in Philadelphia with other German immigrants.  He became an American citizen and worked as an assistant in the Academy’s tailoring department.  A few friends may have heard how Armin turned down an offer to become a jockey while working at the Academy.

In the Summer of 1951, Armin was drafted into the Army, trained as an operational maintenance serviceman for military vehicles.  He found himself stationed back in Germany during the Korean War, serving also as a translator.  He received an Army of Occupation Medal (Germany) & National Defense Service Medal in 1953.  Armin remained a reservist until 1961.  After his honorable discharge, he began focusing attention on sheet metal fabrication.  Before becoming a successful manufacturing entrepreneur a decade later, he worked for several sheet metal fabricators, as well as machining and tool companies in central New Jersey and Philadelphia.  While honing his craft under the skilled guidance of others, he went to night school (1958), receiving an associates degree in mechanical engineering from the Pennsylvania Institute of Philadelphia (1960).  He had gained the highly qualified skills to form metal within a few thousandths-of-an-inch tolerance.

When Armin wasn’t working or studying, he was reading.  He was a consummate reader of world history, a continuing fan of soccer, a fierce pinochle player, an eager joke teller and modest, but talented dancer.  He was a committed member and sponsor of local German clubs in the Northeast Philadelphia region, where his astute mind and charisma met similar minds, formulating lifelong friendships.  He met and married his late, dear wife Ingeborg in 1956, making home in Wissinoming, Philadelphia, where they would live with their first two sons Eric and Kurt, until 1970.  Friends loved to watch Armin and Inge dance at the social clubs.  Both of them were incredibly humble, but how they magnified the dance floor with their eloquence! 

In 1967, Armin, with his brother Erich joining forces, established A&E Manufacturing Company Inc..  Initially operating in the Tacony region of Philadelphia, A&E employed 20 employees, gaining traction with a diverse customer base of original equipment manufacturers.  In 1970, A&E was incorporated and moved to Levittown, where Armin served as owner and president.  His hands-on nature found him at all times of the day mentoring others on the shop floor.  Armin himself oversaw integral quality standards, performing numerous operations at A&E, including prototyping, programming, laser cutting, punching, grinding, forming, welding, plating, painting, silkscreening and assembling.  With A&E’s new foundation in Levittown, Armin moved his family to Holland, PA the same year.  Soon, their third son Michael would be born. 

Armin, ever the dedicated father and husband, had the sole ambitions of taking care of his family and continuing to make his business thrive.  Within a decade A&E had substantially expanded their workforce and added several buildings totaling 70,000 square feet of aluminum/steel production floorspace.  For decades now, Armin and Erich’s enterprise remains known for superior manufactured components serving such industries as the life sciences, electronics, communications and medical sectors.  To this day A&E maintains an exceeding reputation for precision craftsmanship and employment opportunity. 

It must be stated how Armin loved to talk.  His history growing up in Europe and his accomplishments in America made for insightful, cultured tales, illustrating a steadfast will, fortitude, resilience and success.  The laugh he often found impossible to suppress when telling jokes will forever echo.  None will forget his piercing blue eyes - an embodiment of the colorful, unforgettable character he represented throughout his life.

Armin is survived by his devoted children: Eric A. Ast and his wife Elizabeth, Kurt R. Ast and Michael A. Ast and his wife Angela. He was the loving grandfather to, Eric A. II, Alexandria, Rebecca, Zoe and Emmett Ast.  Relatives and friends are invited to attend his viewing on Tuesday May 9, 2023, from 9:30am until his Funeral Service 11:00am in the Joseph A. Fluehr III Funeral Home, 800 Newtown-Richboro Road (at Holland Rd.). Richboro, PA 18954. Interment will follow in Forest Hills Cemetery.  Contributions in his memory may be made to either the Hopes and Dreams Foundation, 517 Cedarbrook Rd. Southampton, PA 18966 or to the Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, 14100 Worthington Rd, Philadelphia, PA 19116.

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Service/Memorial Information
  • Morning Visitation

    Tuesday, May 9th, 2023
    9:30 AM - 11:00 AM

    Joseph A. Fluehr III Funeral Home, Richboro
    800 Newtown-Richboro Road
    Richboro, PA 18954

  • Funeral Service

    Tuesday, May 9th, 2023
    11:00 AM

    Joseph A. Fluehr III Funeral Home, Richboro
    800 Newtown-Richboro Road
    Richboro, PA 18954

  • Interment with Military Honors

    Tuesday, May 9th, 2023

    Forest Hills Cemetery
    25 Byberry Road
    Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006

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