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The Big Story of 2011

This is the time of year when most editors run their annual "Top 10 Stories" list.  Here at The Mt. Gretna Newsletter, that tradition always gives us pause. Most years, we don't have 10 stories, or even one, that qualifies for top billing.

Yet that suits most folks just fine. After the whirl of summertime activities -- which by most standards is extraordinary for a place with only about 1,500 or so full-time residents -- we welcome those periods when the pace slips back to how it was before the summer began, back to a tempo that founder Robert H. Coleman probably had in mind when he first sketched out his dreams for Mt. Gretna.

A chord of permanence? A yen to keep things the same in a rapidly changing world? Maybe. Yet those were precisely the thoughts that resonated a few years ago when we talked with a woman who was then in her late 80s, but as a young girl, had roller skated down Mt. Gretna's "concrete highway."    


Mt. Gretna's concrete highway in 1917, part of the 28th Division Highway system, among the first paved roads in Pennsylvania. 

That's the road Army engineers laid down in the early 1900s along what is now Route 117. They specified thick slabs of concrete to bear the weight of heavy military vehicles, including the forerunners of modern tanks, that traveled throughout the area during the National Guard's encampments.

When PennDot ordered the highway resurfaced a few years ago, they discovered that the concrete highway is still there, a formidable bedrock that probably will last forever. A comforting thought, somehow.

After the woman grew up, she moved to California where she spent most of her life. Yet, as often as she could, she returned to Mt. Gretna for visits. Year after year, whenever she came back, she was delighted to discover that Mt. Gretna had, thank goodness, remained pretty much as she remembered it. "Not much has changed," she said.
How many people who live into their 80s and 90s can say that about the places where they spent their teenage years? Do shopping centers, Starbucks and giant parking lots actually constitute progress?

Such thoughts reverberated as we mulled over events that might find their way into an end-of-the-year summary of 2011. Changes? There was, of course, the sudden and unexpected request last summer to rezone a 90-acre parcel of land opposite the Heights and Campmeeting. Although it was withdrawn by early fall, the request nevertheless had a beneficial effect: It awakened divergent neighborhoods throughout the community to their shared heritage and unified stake in the future of Mt. Gretna as a whole. It also reaffirmed the commitment of earlier planners who designated residential forests as land which needs protection to "preserve its environmental integrity for future generations," a pledge that homeowners had taken seriously and in good faith when they made decisions to buy property here. 
Other candidates for a "Top Stories List"


Built in 1892, the Playhouse was carefully recreated a century later.

include the remarkable contributions that newcomers to Mt. Gretna now make. Activities that promote culture, recreation and neighborliness increasingly trace their origins not simply to residents of the Chautauqua or the Campmeeting, but also to those who live in Timber Hills, Conewago Hill, Stoberdale, Timber Bridge and Mt. Gretna Heights. Their combined energies now transcend municipal boundaries, traditions and artificial restraints of  "the way it's always been done." The spirit of Chautauqua -- a spirit of curiosity, sharing, personal growth and renewal -- pulses along both sides of Route 117 with ever-increasing vigor. 

Mt. Gretnans? They are everywhere, in every neighborhood, from Mt. Gretna Heights to Timber Bridge. Some are newcomers and have been here only a few years. Others are in their 70s and 80s. A few have lived here all their lives. Young or old, all contribute to Mt. Gretna's intrinsic value. And in nurturing that value, nearly all seem to understand that civility, cordiality, cooperation, support to neighbors in times of need, and a roll-up-your-sleeves attitude are essential ingredients. 

The Big Story of 2011 in Mt. Gretna? Tiny in size yet generous in spirit, Mt. Gretna once again remained pretty much as it has always been. An unduplicable treasure awaiting future generations.



Bears in 'Downtown' Mt. Gretna?

Newspaper Lady Says She Saw 'em, by Golly 

Why sure, there are bears around here. Somebody saw one a few years ago along Route 117, near the point where it intersects with the northbound and southbound lanes of Route 72.
And veteran hunters have spotted, er, well, bear scat on the ridge south of Mt. Gretna. Sometimes, there's incriminating evidence to prove they've even roamed near homes along the top of the mountain, on Mt. Gretna's southern perimeter. Overturned trash cans and the like.
But, say the pros, a mother and her cubs? They'd never wander so far from their dens as to turn up in "downtown" Mt. Gretna. Such things just wouldn't happen. Mother bears and their young would never stroll into the midst of Mt. Gretna -- even if it does have a pizza parlor that serves breakfast.
Or would they?
Yes, says June


The newspapers were a bit late one morning.  

Bennett, who knows better and, in her 66 years of living, has learned a thing or two about wildlife, including bears. When she lived in Maine, she once encountered a 2,000-pound moose tall enough to drive a small car between its legs.
And when it comes to spotting bears in unusual places, nobody's better able to do that than June, who makes a 142-mile round trip each morning in the hours between midnight and 4:00 or 5:00 am delivering newspapers for the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal, Sunday News and Reading Eagle. If you want to spot bears, that's the time to do it.
In fact, June's seen bears in these parts before. But they were roaming in Governor Dick Park, just far enough off the road to be seen, but not to frighten anybody.
When she arrived in Mt. Gretna on an early November morning shortly before last Thanksgiving, however, she could barely believe her eyes. As she walked over to fill the newspaper rack opposite the pizza shop, at the corner of Timber Road and Route 117 directly across from the post office, there they were. At 3:15 am on a chilly morning, a mother bear and her two cubs wading in the stream not 15 yards from the vending racks where June was about to deposit her newspapers.
"I had my keys ready to put into the machine, but then that mama bear stood up. I tell you, she was bigger than me. So I said, 'Okaaaaay.' She was close enough that I didn't want to tangle with her, especially when she had babies that were maybe 140 or 150 pounds each. I got in my car and decided I'd come back when it was daylight," she says. "The papers were a little late that day."
After delivering newspapers for some 28 years, there's not much that scares June. She drives in the wee hours and sees all sorts of wildlife, some of them that fall into the category of homo sapiens. But she comes equipped with a big voice, a strong backbone and maybe a weapon if the occasion calls for it. She's never been threatened by humans, but she's had to warn some a time or two when she felt she was being followed.
Still, it's a career she enjoys. "I wouldn't have it any other way," she says. She moved here a few years ago to take care of her mother, who has since passed away. But she remains here and is happy to be living nearby in Lebanon. "I love Maine," she says, "but I also think Mt. Gretna is one of the nicest places I've ever been. The people here are so friendly."
The people, maybe. But Mt. Gretna bears? They probably aren't likely to cause harm, but June thinks it's wise to be cautious. When bears are roaming outside, inside your car or home is a good place to be.  



Where do you find a Halloween Parade led by Super Pumpkin, a special free hot dog celebration to herald the arrival of Big Junk Day, or a zany-spirited citizen who once


Tom Mayer photo

contrived to place artificial shark fins in the chilly waters of Lake Conewago?
Probably in the same place that, on Christmas Day, sprouted a Santa-propelled kayak merrily gliding across that lake, happily finishing up his delivery rounds late on the morning of December's 25th day.
Who was that bearded stranger? A Fed Ex delivery man embarrassed that he couldn't get finished in time amid all the narrow streets and walking paths of Mt. Gretna? A UPS driver whose truck ran out of gas? Or maybe a merry Mt. Gretnan, inspired by the still unfrozen waters and hoping to stimulate a little extra Christmas spirit? No one's sure. Just chalk it up to another in those happenings that, although they could happen anywhere, are far more likely to happen in Mt. Gretna.

No, it's not exactly a Hansel and Gretel gingerbread house, but by golly it fits perfectly in the offices of Gretna Computer Consulting -- the place to which nearly everybody in Mt. Gretna turns when their c
Description: coughs or sneezes.
Joe Shay (left) -- Mt. Gretna's mayor, volunteer fire company president and all-around good guy -- "does so much for the community," says friend and admirer Max Hunsicker, who created this replica out of keyboard keys, floppy discs and assorted wires and filaments of the electronic age as a gift that arrived just before Christmas. It likely will have a spot year-round in the tiny computer shop next to Mt. Gretna's pizzeria.
It's the spot where Joe and partner Bob Dowd -- who serves as the Mt. Gretna Fire Department's chief -- have been fixing computers between fire calls for the past dozen years.
Have a computer that needs repairs? Give them a call at 964-1106. Even if your computer's not ailing, stop in to see the electronic gingerbread house. It even lights up!

Bob Gingrich (inset) has lived in Mt. Gretna since 1976, and last month he became the first Mt. Gretnan to work at the post office since Joyce Boltz was the postmaster 18 years ago. Before Joyce
Description:, Betty and Herb Dissinger, also local residents, manned the office.
Bob, perhaps best known as an avid tennis player, worked for a Coca-Cola bottler in Cleona over 28 years. For several years he also headed Lebanon County Prison's work release program. As for tennis, it's a passion that spurted quickly after he took up the game just 10 years ago.
He and wife Joanne, who heads the Mt. Gretna Nursery, have two sons -- one a search and rescue helicopter pilot assigned to the Pentagon, the other a graphic artist who graduated from Lebanon Valley College in 2010. They now live in Timber Hills, as next-door neighbors to architect Roland and Joyce Nissley.

If the face seems familiar, there's a reason. Playwright, singer, keyboard player and composer Larry McKenna (inset) has been coming to Mt. Gretna for two weeks every summer for the past 60 years. "My family made Mt. Gretna their
Description: vacation place, and we consider it one of the most special places on earth," he says.
Recalling a time nearly five years ago when he walked with his mother past the Playhouse, McKenna says he told her that someday he'd have one of his shows play there. "Little did I know that she would pass away only eight days later."
This summer, he'll fulfill that promise. His popular hit "Burt and Me," including songs like "What the World Needs Now," "Walk On By," and "Say A Little Prayer for You," comes to the Playhouse July 12-15.
"Am I excited? That's an understatement," says McKenna, who expects family members from Hawaii, Florida, Maine, Illinois, Colorado, New York, Ohio, Michigan, Texas, North Carolina, Maryland and Pennsylvania will come to see the show.
Coming to Mt. Gretna is a long-standing family tradition. They absolutely love it here, says the playwright. So this year, Mt. Gretnans will again welcome him as a summertime neighbor and also get a chance to not only see his show but also meet dozens of McKennas from around the USA -- including wife Kathy, their four children and three granddaughters.

When the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce sought last month to kick o
Description: a program that would honor volunteers who have helped lift the cultural environment and quality of life locally, they chose as one of their first Community Builder Award recipients Music at Gretna founder, neurologist and musician Carl Ellenberger (inset). 

Dr. Ellenberger created the music festival here in 1976. It's been running ever since from the Mt. Gretna Playhouse, now with concerts presented during August and September, and during the winter from Elizabethtown College, where the year-round series is now headquartered. He was also among the founding members of the Mt. Gretna Arts Council in 1987.

First, there was the news that Steve Roach (inset, right), who moved to the Heights last summer had just been promoted to the rank of CW4, which, if you're in the military is a big deal. It's next to the


CW4 Roach

top ranking in that category, an honor Steve earned as a helicopter test pilot and instructor currently assigned to Ft. Indiantown Gap.
Then we


CW4 Wolshire

ran into Tim Wolshire (inset, left), having dinner at the Timbers last week with Julie Shearer. They own a home on Village Lane. Tim, it turns out, is also a CW4. He too  flies helicopters. Although there are scores of Blackhawk pilots moving in and out of the Gap, Steve and Tim know each other.
Two Blackhawk helicopter pilots living in Mt. Gretna, pop. 1500? Nope, actually, there are three, said Sarah Ellis, who's a crackerjack in many realms including one of our standout volunteers on this newsletter.
Bob Oburn, she told us, lives around the corner from Tim on Timber Road and has been flying all sorts of choppers, including Blackhawks, for 28 years. Until he retired in 2009, he was a helicopter simulator trainer, a job he loved but probably not quite as much as actual flying, which stopped in 1999 but left him with fond memories that included lifting heavy towers and air conditioning equipment onto the roof of the Pentagon with his specially designed helicopter, called a Skytrain. And guess what? Bob (left) also retired as a CW4 and has now swapped his Blackhawk for a Harley.


CW4 (Ret.) Oburn

So what attracts helicopter pilots to Mt. Gretna? "We knew nothing about it when we moved here with our two dogs last July," says Steve's wife Annie, a substitute teacher who helps John and Nancy Mitchell sew custom tablecloths at La Cigale when she's not in the classroom. Annie says she and Steve fell in love with Mt. Gretna, especially since it gives them the chance to ride their mountain bikes on the Rail-Trail. "Whenever I walk around town, I feel like I'm on vacation," she says.
Maybe that's a clue to what makes this place so appealing. No matter how much you love flying, nothing beats a vacation. And take it from these chopper pilots who've had a chance to get a bird's- eye view of the whole countryside, no place beats Mt. Gretna.  



Glimpses into the past through the eyes of postcard photographers 

It may be the largest collection of Mt. Gretna postcards ever assembled by a single collector. Certainly it ranks among the most complete collections in existence.

This month, in a special presentation by the Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society, postcard  


Look familiar? It's what the post office was like in 1906. Scenes like this from Mt. Gretna's earliest days will be shown at the fire hall Jan. 29

collector Morris Greiner, whose father once ran the Mt. Gretna telegraph station, will present "Old Mt. Gretna Through the Eyes of a Postcard Photographer." 

For Greiner, Mt. Gretna is more than the focus of a lifetime search for postcards relating to this area. It is a captivating probe into his own heritage. His father first began working for the military here, and Mt. Gretna is where he spent his childhood years. His collection now includes hundreds of colored postcards, most in perfect condition and many with personal inscriptions written more than a century ago. Except for three that are copies, all of the original postcards of Mt. Gretna ever printed are now part of his vast collection.

His talk will be illustrated with Power Point slides that include some of the most compelling scenes of Mt. Gretna's early days, including the one above, taken in 1906 and showing the "new" post office at the entrance to the Chautauqua grounds.

The Sunday, Jan. 29 program begins at 2:00 pm at the Mt. Gretna fire hall and is open to everyone.  Contributions to help defray program costs are appreciated.   



In a campaign that never ceases
Most Applaud Efforts to Scatter the Birds

The turkey vultures have returned. Bless 'em, these unlovely creatures prove year after year that no living thing on this earth is truly unlovable.
Ugly, with vile habits that don't endear them to most of us, they nevertheless have their fans. "I've lived in Mt. Gretna 30 years and they never bothered me," one resident complained recently. She sent a note stating that she was unhappy about the noise that volunteers sometimes make while rousting the birds from their nighttime perches. Usually, that process is one required to safeguard the rooftops, automobiles, shrubbery, porches and patios below that otherwise would be splattered with white splotches the next morning.
Yet for every admirer who objects to efforts to shoo the birds away, dozens of others send out calls for help. They beseech the volunteers to come to their neighborhoods and scatter the birds.
For the volunteers, who doubtlessly value serenity as much as anyone, it's a sticky wicket -- one requiring them to do their task effectively but with as little disruption to community life as possible. It's a goal they pursue with minimal disturbance, especially when compared to
other communities confronted by similar problems.


Bill Shoals photo

Mt. Gretna's turkey vulture swarms have been returning to the area for nearly 30 years, but they're now down to probably less than a third of their peak numbers a decade or so ago (when over 600 birds swirled overhead in a scene that Alfred Hitchcock would have loved). USDA officials credit Mt. Gretna's relocation effort as one of the most successful in Pennsylvania.
But if the volunteers are persistent, so are the buzzards, which sometimes live 25 years or more. They have long memories and keep coming back to the haven of their youth.
Max Hunsicker, who leads the community-wide effort to chase the vultures away, knows the noise bothers some residents and passes on their complaints to his volunteers as well. His advice is always the same, year after year: "Please try to keep noise levels reasonable," he cautions volunteers. "Also remember, the most effective time to shoot (and use lights) is about 30 minutes before dark."
His volunteer corps is loyal, but their ranks are thinning as age, relocation and infirmities take their toll. He needs more volunteers. To be part of the campaign, send Max an email (, telling him you'd like to help out. He'll be pleased to hear from you, and so will all (or nearly all) of your neighbors. 



Note: An Audubon Society program Jan. 25 presents Hawk Mountain Sanctuary research biologist David Barber, currently studying migration patterns of North American Turkey Vultures. The program starts at 7:30 pm at the Lebanon Valley Home, 550 E. Main St., Annville.



Coming up: Another "Meet the Neighbors" Mid-winter Gathering
It's the second annual Night at the Timbers R
Description:, a purely social affair that has as its primary purpose helping neighbors in the vicinity of Timber Hills get to know one another better.
The informal event takes place Friday, Jan. 20 starting around 5:00 pm (or "whenever it's convenient for you to get there," says volunteer Patsy Oburn).
To join in, simply make your own reservations (call the Timbers at 964-3601), order from the menu and pay your own bill.
"Everyone's invited, so tell your friends and neighbors so we can celebrate the new year with each other," says Esther Mefferd, another volunteer organizer.
Last year, the "Timbers Night" was a social highlight of the winter season as close neighbors who didn't really know many folks in the neighborhood discovered lots of new friends and started relationships that blossomed into outdoor gatherings throughout the summer and early fall.
Questions? Call Esther or Ted Mefferd at 964-3123.



Description: for a taste of pasta and meatballs like Jason Brandt used to make at the Hideaway? Guess what? Jason will be back -- putting this year's Italian Night Dinner together on the Mt. Gretna Fire Company's new stove in a fundraiser that kicks off the 2012 season Saturday, Jan. 21.

The gala event begins at 4 p.m. and continues through 7 p.m.

With salad, Italian bread and mouth-watering desserts, it's likely to draw another record crowd -- just as this popular event has done every year since 2008 when fire company volunteers first came up with the idea.  

You'll find generous offerings in an eat-what-you-want, pay-what-you-want extravaganza that Joe Shay, Karen Lynch and their team hope will give everyone who attends extra incentive to make a donation earmarked with the note "Kitchen" to qualify for matching gift status in the campaign to refurbish the fire company kitchen. As reported elsewhere in this issue, each kitchen pledge will be doubled, up to $15,000.   




TIMES TWO. Those Winterites know a good thing when they see it. And they just turned their 2011 contribution of $1,000 for a new fire company kitchen a gift that's suddenly worth $2,000. They submitted their check with the note, "FOR KITCHEN." That's all it took for a donor's matching funds pledge to take effect.

The Winterites, who meet every first Tuesday (except January) in the fire hall, liked the idea so much they also voted to do the same with their contribution again this year.
Financial gifts earmarked for the new kitchen will be matched by an anonymous donor, up to $15,000. Gifts can be in cash or stock, since the fire company has now opened a brokerage account to accept stock donations, a practice that many financial advisors recommend to their clients.

SIX degrees of separation? Nope, not even that. When Batdorf Avenue resident Jean Healy's name  appeared in the Mt. Gretna Newsletter more than a year ago, Wini Gay (Jean's elementary school friend now living in Laurinburg, N.C.)


Small photo brings big reunion. With Jean, right, are maj jong friends Cindy Myer, Jane Anderson and Linda Gettle in the October 2010 newsletter.

told her sister-in-law, Valley Road resident Donna Kaplan.

That was all Donna needed to hatch a surprise dinner. So when Wini and husband John drove to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving last November, Donna invited Jean over as a surprise guest.
Even after more than 50 years, they recognized each another immediately. Jean and Wini had both grown up on East Pershing Avenue in Lebanon, along with Mt. Gretnan John Feather.
"It was wonderful to get reacquainted and talk about our lives then and now," says Jean, who has traveled throughout the world even more than she has in the USA. A former Cedar Crest High School English teacher, Jean returned to Mt. Gretna in 1968, after living in Turkey. She has since lived in the Heights, at Timber Hills Apartments and for the last eight years on Batdorf Avenue in the Campmeeting. Now retired, she stays busy with book clubs, mah jongg, bridge and tap dancing.
Tap dancing? At age 68? "Sixty eight and a half," says Jean. "It was on the list of things that I always wanted to learn."

EIGHT Organists already lined up for the 2012 and 2013 organ recitals that will take place each July at the Princeton Avenue home of Peter Hewitt and Walter McAnney. "That's the earliest you've ever been given a scoop," says Peter, who unfailingly keeps this newsletter at the forefront of his impressive recital schedule. Among this year's artists will be Mt. Gretnan Ryan Brunkhurst (now studying at the top-ranked Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University) and Tyler Canconio, winner of the Harrisburg Region Young Artists 2011 Competition.



Diversion Schemes: 'Tis the Season to be Wary
Cornwall police chief Bruce Harris does a good job of alerting folks to mischief makers in the area. So if you own property here, it's a good idea to subscribe to his email alerts. They'll help keep you abreast of things to watch out for. Drop him a request ( to add your name to the mailing list.
One recent bulletin described the exploits of a trio who showed up at the Cornwall home of a 97-year-old woman to make repairs on her roof. She hadn't called for roof repairers, but one of the men quickly scampered onto her roof while the other two barged through the front door to "check for leaks." One went into the living room, another straight upstairs where she kept her safe. As a safe cracker, however, he flunked. The woman reported that noth
Description: was missing, but her son later reported that the safe door handle had been cocked and its combination dial was now jammed.
A "diversion scheme," said Chief Harris. "Older residents are most frequently targeted," he says. Perpetrators claim they're checking property lines for such things as tree removal, fence installations, utility line construction or roofing and chimney repairs. Their aim, however, is to divert the owner's attention, get them outside the home and allow co-conspiritors to slip inside. Using phones or radios, they alert one another to the owner's movements. What to do if several unidentified "workers" stop by your home? Call 911 immediately, says the chief.


Keep this number handy:

When power outages occur, call Met-Ed: 


Met-Ed gives top priority to outages affecting the greatest numbers of people. Your call not only helps pinpoint the scope of an outage but may also speed repair crews to Mt. Gretna.     

Make the call even though your neighbors might also have reported the outage, advise company officials. Each call nudges Mt. Gretna a little higher on the priority list.   

During extreme cold weather, the Mt. Gretna Fire Company provides emergency shelter in power outages lasting more than three hours. Bring medications and medical equipment; a sleeping bag or blanket and pillows; food for yourself and family members; books, games and other materials to help pass the time and, if the stay is likely to be for several days, a change of clothes. Sorry, no pets.  


News that's not quite fit to print?

Sometimes, miscellaneous notes pour in just as our deadline approaches, but they don't seem to fit in any particular category. Yet, they're often just too good to pass up. So here they are -- notes that didn't fit anywhere else, in our folder called "potpourri":

Need a butcher block island? Put your bid in on a 6' x 3' butcher block island the fire company would like to sell to the highest bidder. With cast iron supports, it's heavy and sturdy with a lower shelf and a partial raised shelf on top. Opening bid is $200, but it could be worth more to someone with a workshop or catering business, say our sources. Interested? Give Joe Shay a call at 964-1106.

Mt. Gretna Artists: Planning a wintertime event you'd like newsletter readers to know about? A "First Friday" exhibit in Lancaster or Lebanon, or a "Second Friday" opening in Lititz? Send a note to Jennifer Veser Besse (, who'll post your announcements on the new Mt. Gretna Arts Council online calendar.  The calendar website ( lists events taking place both here and out-of-town. It's specifically for notices about exhibits and performances by musicians, writers and others who have ties to Mt. Gretna.
Also note: Even if your event is months away, Jennifer will see that it's posted online now. All notices she receives get transferred automatically to editors of the Summer Calendar, who include in the printed edition events that will take place in Mt. Gretna during the summer season.  

A reminder for February in our January letter: Residents of Timber Hills, Conewago Hill and Timber Bridge, put it on your calendar. South Londonderry Township's supervisors will hold the first of their traveling meetings to outlying areas this year in Mt. Gretna -- at the Timbers Wednesday, Feb. 15. The session begins at 7:00 pm.

What's it like right now in the "other" Chautauqua? Click here for a live webcam view of Bestor Plaza, at the Chautauqua Institution in New York.



James R. Mateer 1934-2011
Known to neighbors as "a guy with a big smile, a big cigar and a friendly wave," Jim Mateer died u
Description: of natural causes Dec. 1 in the Temple Avenue home he had shared with Evelyn, his wife of 24 years. A native of Mt. Joy, he worked for over a quarter century as a Yellow Freight driver in Lancaster. He and Evelyn moved to their Chautauqua home here about six years ago.
A Navy veteran who enjoyed motorcycles, he was a member of the Germania Band Club, the Elstonville Sportsman's Association and the Navy Club of America. Memorial contributions are being accepted by the Lebanon Veterans Administration Medical Center. A complete obituary appears

Elias D. Jones 1924-2011 

Elias Daniel Jones, known to his friends as "Ki," died of a rare form of cancer at his Valley Road residence Dec. 29. Born in Indiana, Pa., he, like his father and two brothers, spent his entire life in the furniture business. After selling his store in the 1970s, he was a manager at Levitz Furniture and eventually retired from the J. C. Penney Co. A Navy veteran who served in both World War II and the Korean War, he maintained a lifelong interest in naval and maritime history and, in his 30s, developed a passion for small boat sailing. His son Michael, a furniture craftsman now living in Mexico, describes him as a voracious reader of history whose "dry wit and intelligence won him friends and admirers throughout his life. He maintained that sense of humor into his last days, and those who knew him valued his friendship and counsel in matters great and small."
He is also survived by a daughter, Meredith Frost, and a brother Harry Jones. His wife, Jean Snow Jones, passed away in 2000. Alison Snow Jones, his eldest daughter, preceded him in death last January. A memorial service will be held at 2:00 pm Saturday, Jan. 7, at the Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church. 



Other newsletters of interest:

Mt. Gretna Updates -- Issued as warranted to alert local residents to such matters as temporary road closings, utility repairs, shelter advisories for adverse weather and other conditions affecting people who live in the seven neighborhoods served by the Mt. Gretna post office. Send an e-mail request, with "LOCAL UPDATES" in subject line, to

This Week in Mt. Gretna -- Issued during summer months; a week-by-week listing of local events, sent by e-mail on request. To add your name to the mailing list,

Mt. Gretna Arts Council Newsletter -- Now available only online (no mailed copies). Updated to include news concerning groups dedicated to the arts in Mt. Gretna, Calendar of Events, Summer Premier and Arts Council scholarships.Click here

Gretna Music bulletins -- E-mailed updates on concert events, schedule changes and other news. See "Join Our Mailing List" at

Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society Newsletter -- Online at

Mt. Gretna Bible Festival Newsletter -- Mailed in the spring and fall without charge. Send request to Bible Festival, P.O. Box 408, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064.

Governor Dick Park Newsletter -- Online and by e-mail. See

Cornwall Police Department E-Mail Bulletins -- issued as warranted to update residents on events of community interest, including crime alerts. To add your name to the mailing list, e-mail request to

South Londonderry Township Newsletter -- of primary interest to Mt. Gretnans in Timber Hills, Conewago Hill and Timber Bridge; online at

Campmeeting Newsletter -- Available online and mailed to residents.

Mt. Gretna Heights Newsletter -- e-mailed to Heights residents. Address inquiries to Michelle Shay,



A friend who retired early in his career once gave us the best definition of retirement we've yet discovered. "It's doing what I want to do when I want to do it," he said. Now in our ninth year of retirement, we don't know of a better definition.

This newsletter is purely and simply a retirement hobby, one that keeps us in close touch with good friends here and around the world. It has no particular attachment to any group or organization, nor any political or commercial ax to grind.

We send this letter only by e-mail to anyone who requests it, without charge and with no expectation of anything other than a gentle prodding when we err -- a bracing tonic that can ward off the rigors of advancing age. All of us need to be reminded from time to time that we can be mistaken.

We don't cover everything. Some topics are better left to daily newspapers, TV and others with greater skills, resources and insights.

Generally speaking, we try to cover things that you may not have already read elsewhere, and we focus like a laser beam on stories that have specific ties to Mt. Gretna. Since the vast majority of our readers live in other places, we sometimes summarize stories that appear in local newspapers. We also depend on readers who alert us to news, including obituaries, about present and former Mt. Gretnans.

In preparing each issue, we like to keep in mind the example set by the late Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas, who felt as if listeners had invited him into their homes. We also value the practical wisdom of Rotary International's Four-Way Test of the Things We Think, Say or Do: "Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?" A good guideline for writing a newsletter? Yes, and also for conducting a life.

We've been writing this newsletter since January 2001, usually once a month unless we're traveling, ailing or attending to duties that, in the interest of domestic tranquility, take a higher priority.  

We thank the many people who help us gather the news, take the photos, then edit, fact-check and proofread this newsletter. They include people with special skills and knowledge of Mt. Gretna who live both here and in places like New York City, St. Paul, Minn., New Cumberland, Pa. and Hilton Head, S.C.

If you have difficulty reading or printing the newsletter, please click on the online version appearing at

Thanks to our friends at Gretna Computers, you can always find back issues of this newsletter on the

Web. That online archive sometimes proves helpful to people planning to move here who want to know more about what goes on in a community which, as the late Marlin Seiders had observed, "is not a place, but a spirit."

Kindest regards,

Roger Groce


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