‘Mister Ed’ Gotwalt, founder of iconic roadside shop near Gettysburg, dead at 84

Edwin Lee Gotwalt, the founder of a quirky candy shop and roadside attraction outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, died Friday. He was 84.

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Known as “Mister Ed,” Gotwalt opened Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum & Candy Emporium in Orrtanna, about 8 miles from Gettysburg, in 1975, his granddaughter, Nicole Bucher, who has run the store for the past seven years, posted on the business’ Facebook page.

According to his obituary, Gotwalt died on his 54th wedding anniversary and on the 46th anniversary of the founding of the famous attraction.

To our dear friends and customers: I am heartbroken to share that my larger-than-life grandfather, Mister Ed, passed...

Posted by Mister Ed's Elephant Museum on Saturday, February 27, 2021

The museum specializes in elephant artifacts, which include stuffed animals, photographs and glass replicas. The museum features around 12,000 elephant artifacts, the Evening Sun of Hanover reported.

Gotwalt was born in York, Pennsylvania, on May 20, 1936, according to his obituary. Gotwalt had an eighth-grade education but managed several Giant Food Stores in the Washington, D.C., area, Maryland and Virginia.

On Feb. 26, 1975, Gotwalt unveiled Mister Ed’s: The Area’s Most Unusual General Store, about 2 miles from its current location, which opened as a redesigned elephant museum in 1983.

Gotwalt loved promotions, staying up 76 hours to celebrate the nation’s bicentennial in 1976, according to the Mister Ed website.

The candy emporium section of the store features more than 900 varieties of sweets.

Gotwalt retired in 2014, selling the business to Bucher and her husband, the Patriot-News reported. In 2010, the business survived a devastating fire. Gotwalt also survived a car crash in 2017, the newspaper reported.

“My grandpa was an amazing human,” Bucher wrote on Facebook. “Please keep our Mister Ed’s family in your prayers.”