‘He’s all for Portage’
By Linda Lemond Post-Tribune correspondent July 13, 2012 3:58PM
Portage, Ind., Mayor James Snyder presents the Key to the City to longtime resident Ed Gottschling on July 3, 2012. | Photo provided
Updated: August 17, 2012 6:16AM
When Ed Gottschling arrived at Portage City Hall on July 3 dressed in his crisp Veterans of Foreign Wars uniform, he knew he would be part of an honor guard raising the new American flag that had flown over the Statehouse on this year’s D-Day anniversary.
And he knew he would attend an open house displaying the updates in the building’s décor.
What he didn’t know was that he would be honored and presented with a Key to the City of Portage. His first clue came when he was invited into Mayor James Snyder’s office and his son, Daniel Gottschling, and daughter and son-in-law, Laura and Robert Buthod, greeted him. Dan had flown in from Washington, D.C., and Laura and Bob had come from Chicago to participate in their dad’s honor.
It’s not easy surprising someone like Gottschling. He is a ubiquitous presence at City Hall. He served as a city councilman for 16 years, 10 of them as president. He has served on every standing committee in the city.
Although he lost his seat in a close race in the last election, he continues to be actively involved in Portage and state politics, especially fighting for the rights of the disabled and elderly.
Snyder said: “Today’s about Ed Gottschling and his service. Ed has always been dedicated to Portage, and that hasn’t stopped. He still attends all the meetings. He hasn’t stopped working for Portage, and that’s something that deserves to be honored. Everybody (on the council) felt that Ed needs to be honored.”
Clerk-treasurer Chris Stidham said: “Ed just epitomizes service — everything he’s done, not just his years on City Council, but also his service in the military, Exchange Club and all the other clubs he’s associated with. You just ask, and he’s there. He’s all for Portage.”
Besides his children, Gottschling’s niece, Janet McMahon, and grandnieces, Liz Penman and Rebecca Nelson, with her husband, Steve Nelson, came for the ceremony. Friends from the VFW, the Portage Exchange Club, St. Peter Lutheran Church and the whole community came to honor Gottschling.
The ceremony began with a standing ovation for Gottschling. Councilwoman Elizabeth Modesto talked about how influential Gottschling had been in her personal and political lives.
“You are like a father to me, and I love you, Ed,” Modesto said, hugging him.
Councilwoman Suzanne Lynch read a proclamation from U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, that was read into the Congressional Record on Tuesday, July 10. It honors Gottschling “for his remarkable life of devotion to the people of Portage and all of Northwest Indiana. His unselfish and lifelong dedication to serving his community is worthy of the highest commendation, and he serves as an inspiration to us all.”
Snyder then presented Gottschling with the Key to the City.
“This is a really special key; it’s made with U.S. steel from Portage,” he said. “It has a center with the city logo on it, made from a Portage product, and the wood of the frame came from Portage.
“It was designed and crafted by Scot Jackson and Bob Estes of Portage’s New Paradigms Industrial Art and Design Co. It’s a really unique thing.”
The key was engraved with the marking 7-2, indicating that it was the second key awarded by the seventh mayor of Portage. The first key was presented to former Mayor Doug Olson.
“Were you surprised?” longtime friend Marge Shery asked Gottschling after the ceremony.
Shery was instrumental in organizing the event and inviting Gottschling’s friends and family.
“Surprised? I was dumbfounded — what an honor!” he replied.
Gottschling also was named grand marshal for the Fourth of July parade.