Obituary: 1949-2021: Oceanside businessman Kevin Stotmeister recalled for devotion to community – The San Diego Union-Tribune


Kevin Stotmeister, a longtime Oceanside businessman who volunteered for decades on local city, business and philanthropic organizations, died Dec. 5 at his home in Texas. He was 72.

The longtime CEO for the national sign-making company Federal Heath, Stotmeister was remembered by friends this week for his business acumen and his dedication to the local community, both as a volunteer and as a philanthropist. With his wife, Ellen, he retired to Colleyville, Tx., in 2017 to be closer to family.

“He was one of those great guys who was a real loss to the community when he left,” said Jerry Kern, who served on the Oceanside City Council from 2007 to 2018. “His departure was also a huge financial loss for a lot of the local nonprofits. He and Ellen contributed a great deal of their time and money to many organizations.”

Stotmeister was born on April 16, 1949, in Hazel Green, Wis., and grew up in Rochelle, Ill. He attended the University of Illinois on an ROTC scholarship and served as an ensign in the U.S. Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps.

After eight years as a Naval officer, he got involved in the sign and visual communications industry, a career that would take him all over the country. While serving as president of Heath Sign Co. in 1993, his company merged with Federal Sign Co. and he became president and CEO of the newly combined Federal Heath Sign Co., a position he held until January of last year.

Federal Heath is one of the largest sign-making companies in the U.S. It created the illuminated sign for the NASDAQ stock exchange at Times Square in New York and had contracts with national chains such as Burger King, Shell Oil and O’Reilly Auto Parts, Locally, it also created the marquee at the Sunshine Brooks Theater in Oceanside and the Carlsbad and Escondido monument street signs.

Kern said that because signs are one of the last purchases new businesses make before they open their doors, Stotmeister always had keen insight on how healthy the economy was going to be each quarter, based on new business openings.

“He had his finger on the pulse of the business of the nation,” Kern said.

The Stotmeisters lived in Oceanside from 1991 to 2017, where they were both active in the community. Kevin served on the city of Oceanside’s Economic Development Commission as well as on the North County Economic Development Commission.

“He really worked hard and closely with the city to bring in new businesses,” Kern said.

Stotmeiser also served as chairman of the Tri-City Hospital Foundation and was active in the Oceanside, Carlsbad, and Vista chambers of commerce. He also served as chairman of the board of directors for KOCT, an Oceanside TV station.

Oceanside writer and commentator Tom Morrow praised Stotmeister’s community efforts at the TV station.

“I served on the KOCT-TV board of directors with Kevin,” Morrow said. “He led the management to be more fiscally responsible. He was a top-notch businessman.”

Kern said the Stotmeisters were also both active volunteers and donors for many organizations, including the Oceanside Museum of Art, the Women’s Resource Center and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Oceanside.

After the Stotmeisters moved to Texas a few years ago, they became just as deeply involved in the Colleyville community. Kevin was on the board of directors for the Colleyville Lions Club and was treasurer of the Drug Awareness Council. He passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack after attending a Lions Club breakfast on Dec. 5.

Stotmeister is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, Ellen, their daughters and sons-in-law Erin and Travis Buck and Sarah and Jason Pearson, as well as three grandchildren. Memorial services will be held at 10 a.m. Jan. 27 at First United Methodist Church in Colleyville, Tx.