Frank Lerew, Founding president of Shippensburg Community Fair, Dies at 93

November 25, 2016

Frank Lerew was honored on stage during the fair's 50th anniversary celebration in July 2007 for his contributions to the community.

SHIPPENSBURG -- The Shippensburg Community Fair, including its officers, board members, and volunteers, is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Frank R. Lerew, 93, on Tuesday, November 23, 2016. Frank was the founder of the Shippensburg Community Fair, and served as its president for the first 50 years of its existence.

Frank was a former agriculture instructor in the Shippensburg Area School District, and got the idea to create the annual event after working with FFA students to host smaller agricultural farm shows for several years. After several years of events that increased in size, the first annual Shippensburg Community Fair was held in Shippensburg Borough’s municipal parking lot on Burd Street, currently home to the Shippensburg Police Department. Among the guests to the first annual fair was Pennsylvania Governor George Leader. The Fair quickly outgrew its home on Burd Street, and expanded the following year to a larger tract of land on Possum Hollow Road, now known as the Shippensburg Fairgrounds.

Mr. Lerew was a friend to many in the Shippensburg community. He dedicated his life to promoting agriculture, serving community organizations, and working to bring town and country together.  He served as the chairman of the fair committee, and later of the fair’s board of directors, where he provided guidance and leadership to hundreds of volunteers involved over the years. He worked to establish the many standing committees responsible for livestock and dairy shows, home products and youth exhibits, food concessions, entertainment, and special events. With the assistance of his sidekick and friend, Mr. Fred Dillner, their committee quickly turned the Shippensburg Community Fair into one of the largest, most recognized agricultural fairs in south-central Pennsylvania.

Frank retired from his duties with the Shippensburg Community Fair during the fair’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2007, after which he was recognized on stage for his incredible service to the community by fair board members, family, and many special guests. Looking back on the event, Frank stated that “It seems impossible that fifty years has passed by so quickly. I wish to express my appreciation for the opportunity to serve… I am certain that the Shippensburg Community Fair will continue to be a major influence in the community.”  An annual scholarship was created in Frank's name, the "Frank R. Lerew Scholarship", and is offered to graduates of Shippensburg Area Senior High School who exhibit a high level of involvement in agriculture and community service.

Fred Dillner, left, and Frank Lerew, right, each served the Shippensburg Community Fair for over 50 years.

Funeral arrangements for Mr. Lerew are being handled by Fogelsanger-Bricker Funeral Home. A visitation will be held on Sunday, November 27 from 6 PM to 8 PM at the funeral home, with the funeral held on Monday, November 28 at 11 AM at the Grace United Church of Christ in Shippensburg. Memorial contributions may be made to the Grace United Church of Christ, 121 E. Orange St., Shippensburg, PA 17257.

The Shippensburg Community Fair lives on in Frank’s memory, and will celebrate its 60th year in July 2017.  The fair’s board of directors is deeply grateful for Frank’s guidance and friendship over the years. It has, and will continue to strive to keep Frank’s many visions and values alive and well in the Shippensburg area.