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A Lifetime of Love: Carol and Joe Moomaw

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Carol and Joe Moomaw of Mechanicsburg have known and loved each other all of their lives. As children they played together with Joe often pulling Carol’s ponytail to get her attention. The couple dated throughout high school with each going their separate ways after graduation. Some years later, Carol and Joe reunited and married after a six-week courtship. Through their friendship, love and respect for one another, they have created a steadfast bond to sustain life’s challenges. Two years ago, Joe was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia and is receiving services from Homeland Hospice, a hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania

After their courtship in high school, Joe attended the University of Pennsylvania, then law school. His final two years were completed at Dickinson School of Law, followed by three years working in the Assistant Attorney General’s Office in Harrisburg. Joe left his position with the Assistant Attorney General’s Office to open a law practice. He was retained by his father’s company, Interstate Tax Service, Inc., which provided unemployment compensation consulting services for employees, as the General Counsel. This family business, which was one of the first of its kind in the region, grew into a family legacy.

Carol attended Bucknell University for three years after high school, then married and had four children. She would occasionally see Joe at community events in their hometown of Waynesboro. After Carol’s husband died, she connected with Joe at a dinner dance. Carol and Joe’s longtime mutual friend Marilyn helped arrange the date. Marilyn’s match-making was a success and soon the couple was dating.

As a single mother, dating Carol included her children, which Joe loved. Carol often relied on the babysitting services of her friend Mary. After one date, Carol’s daughter Dawn asked her mother how to spell Mary’s name. Carol recited the letters to Dawn who quickly produced a note for Joe. The note said, “Will you Mary my mom?” Joe immediately said yes.

“It was the sweetest proposal,” Joe and Carol recall. “Dawn wrote the words we were both thinking.”

The couple married six weeks later on Christmas Eve. Marilyn and her husband served as the maid of honor and best man.

“I have always known Joe so reconnecting was easy,” Carol says. “It was like no time had passed.”

Joe and Carol’s life blossomed as time passed. They had two sons together. Joe adopted Carol’s four children and they raised a happy, close-knit family. Today, they have 14 living grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Professionally, Joe continued to grow Interstate Tax Service, Inc., which is now run by the fourth generation of Moomaws.

Carol and Joe tackle his Lewy body dementia as a team. The disease impacts Joe’s   thinking, memory and movement. When Joe struggles to recollect a memory, Carol is quick to help fill in the missing pieces. With the help of family members and Homeland Hospice, Carol helps care for Joe in the comfort of their home.

Joe’s Homeland team includes a nurse case manager, who has helped the couple secure a hospital bed and other necessary equipment, and a home health aide. Carol and Joe also receive 32 hours of in-home support, which gives Carol time to attend to her own needs. Homeland Hospice is the only hospice agency in Central Pennsylvania that offers an in-home relief program to all patient families.

Carol and Joe’s route to finding one another was not direct, but it was a path they both love and are happy they took. From single businessman to father of four in the course of a few months, Joe always adapts to the challenges and opportunities each day brings.

“I’ve loved every minute of it,” Joe says. “I am a fortunate man.”

For more information about services for patients and families, call Homeland Hospice at (717) 221-7890.

Donald McClarren: The Hero Next Door

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United States Air Force and Navy veteran Donald McClarrenBravery and honor are words reserved for the select few who have risked their lives in service of our country. For United States Air Force and Navy veteran Donald McClarren of Boiling Springs these are the words he lived by during his time as a Prisoner of War in North Korea. A humble and soft-spoken man, Donald may dismiss the word hero to describe him, but he is all of this and more to those who know and served with him.

Homeland Hospice recently recognized Donald with a special pin and certificate through the We Honor Veterans program, created by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The program works to improve the quality of health care for all veterans. Homeland Hospice is a nonprofit hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania. Homeland Chaplain John Good leads the program. (John was previously joined in leading the program by Chaplain Mark P. Harris, M.A., M.Div., Spiritual Counselor at Homeland Hospice and a former hospital corpsman, who passed away in 2021.)

As a young man growing up in Johnstown, Donald wanted to do his part to serve our country. He joined the Air Force in 1954 where he was trained in cryptography and worked as a communications technician for 10 years. After completing his time with the Air Force, Donald wanted to return to service as tensions between the United States and Korea and Vietnam were heating up.

“At the time, the Air Force didn’t have openings in my field,” Donald says. “I walked across the building to the Naval recruiting office and joined that day.”

Donald continued deciphering encrypted messages with the Navy, spending time around the world. His life and the history of our country were forever changed on January 23, 1968 when his ship, the USS Pueblo, was attacked and captured in the Sea of Japan by the North Korean military.

The Pueblo was on a peaceful mission to monitor, record and analyze wireless communications. On board were 83 servicemen, primarily trained as communications technicians. When the ship came under attack by North Korean PT boats, submarine chasers and an aircraft, the Pueblo did not fire back as its one .50-caliber machine gun was under deck. Trying to place the gun in firing position would put the men in peril. One crew member died while destroying classified materials. The others were taken prisoners.

From January to December of 1968, Donald and his fellow crew mates were routinely interrogated and tortured. At the time, the United States Department of Defense did not recognize the members of the Pueblo as Prisoners of War.

“Every day I thought about my father and how he was coping,” Donald says. “I worried my captivity would kill him.”

At one point in his imprisonment, the Pueblo crew was shown a propaganda piece of a North Korean sports team competing in England. Part of the news story included footage of everyday life in England. In one frame, an English businessman looked into the camera and raised his middle finger in protest.

“Our guards asked us what this meant,” Donald says with a smile. “We said it was a Hawaiian good luck sign.”

Days later, the guards took photos of the crew to send back to their families to assure them the servicemen were healthy and well-cared for under the North Korean’s watch. In every photo, crewmembers discreetly displayed the “Hawaiian good luck sign” in silent protest.

As the photos made their way to friends and family stateside they were printed in a small town newspaper. Eventually the story and photos were picked up by Time International, which made its way into the hands of the North Korean military, including the guards of the Pueblo’s crew.

“We had the worst week of our lives after the guards read the magazine,” Donald adds. “Somehow we made it.”

Not long after the Time International story ran, the interrogations and beatings stopped, and the soldiers learned they were going home. Donald and his crewmates were taken to the 38th parallel, a popular name given to latitude 38 degrees north, which is the demarcation line between North and South Korea.

“I didn’t believe it was true until I crossed the line into South Korea,” Donald says. “I was finally free.”

While the crew of the Pueblo was free, part of their story and the destiny of their beloved ship remained entwined with North Korea. Donald went on to finish his naval career, retiring as a recruiter while stationed in Montana. The ship’s skipper Commander Lloyd Bucher nearly faced a court-martial trial based on his decision not to secure the machine gun under deck and retaliate. The Navy eventually dropped the proceedings citing the mental toil the crew had already endured.

“Commander Bucher had the support of the entire crew,” Donald says. “He was a good man who put our safety first.”

As for the USS Pueblo, it is still held by North Korea today. Pueblo is the only ship in the U.S. Navy still on the commissioned roster that is held captive.

Twenty-two years after Donald and his fellow crew mates were taken captive; they were finally recognized as Prisoners of War. Donald received the Prisoner of War Medal and Combat Action Ribbon for his valor in service to our country.

 

The Remarkable Life of Anna Weinfurter, WWII Veteran

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Former Pharmacist’s Mate First Class Anna WeinfurterA remarkable life is not given. It is earned through service above oneself and demonstrations of courage and compassion in extraordinary times. Anna Weinfurter’s journey began in Montana and took her across the country while serving in the United States Navy during World War II. While her uniform has been retired for decades, she continues to embody valor, honor and kindness.

Former Pharmacist’s Mate First Class Anna Weinfurter is an example of a remarkable life earned by rising to life’s challenges with bravery and faith.

Homeland Hospice recently recognized Anna, age 98 of Carlisle, with a special pin and certificate through the We Honor Veterans program, created by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The program works to improve the quality of health care for all veterans. Homeland Hospice is a nonprofit hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

In addition, Chaplain Mark P. Harris, M.A., M.Div., Spiritual Counselor at Homeland Hospice and a former hospital corpsman, presented Anna with an authentic rank badge from her time in the Navy.

“I haven’t seen or touched a badge like this in so long,” Anna says with tears in her eyes. “I’m so happy to hold this again.”

As the daughter of homesteaders in Montana, Anna grew up surrounded by animals and acres of farmland. She was one of nine children in a close-knit family. After high school, Anna became a teacher. Her life, and the history of our country, changed when the United States entered WWII in 1942 following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

“I was 20 when I entered the Navy,” Anna says. “My eldest brother chose the Navy and I was determined to follow in his footsteps.”

Pharmacist’s Mate First Class Anna WeinfurterAnna left the family farm for the first time in her life to report for duty in Seattle, Washington in the spring of 1942. She was assigned to Hunter’s College in New York City to complete basic training. Anna and her fellow soldiers traveled by “troop train” from Seattle to New York. A troop train solely transported military personnel. At the time, soldiers were segregated by rank and gender. During the day, Anna completed physical exercises, which included running alongside the train. At night, the train continued its journey to New York while the soldiers slept.

While at Hunter’s College, Anna had a chance encounter with her eldest brother, whose ship was docked in New York City for the weekend. Anna’s brother spotted her in a parade held to promote United States savings bonds. That weekend, Anna and her brother were guests of a local family who prepared an authentic Italian dinner. For Anna, this was her first experience eating food that didn’t come from her family’s farm.

“I was so surprised to see my brother and overwhelmed by the hospitality,” Anna says. “It was an unforgettable night.”

Following basic training, Anna once again traveled by train to Long Beach, California where she received pharmacist training, which is part of the scope of work of a hospital corpsman. As caregivers for both the Navy and Marines, hospital corpsmen treat the injuries and illnesses of soldiers in a variety of capacities and locations.

“I was one of only 13 women in the training course,” Anna recounts. “I knew how to type and had the experience of teaching which helped me advance.”

Anna next reported to Treasure Island California Naval Base in San Francisco Bay (closed in 1997), where she served for the next four years. During WWII, Treasure Island was used as a center for receiving, training, and dispatching service personnel serving in the South Pacific.

Anna was assigned to work with a high profile commander of the hospital at Treasure Island. Following the Bataan Death March in April 1942, surviving soldiers of the atrocity were sent to the hospital for immediate care before they were transferred to other bases for rehabilitation and recovery. Anna’s commander insisted on meeting each solider. Anna worked by his side as they collectively greeted each soldier and bared witness to this tragic moment in our nation’s history.

As the war progressed, Anna’s work, and that of the Navy base, remained focused on the fighting in the South Pacific. Unlike modern-day communication platforms, which provide instant access to news across the globe, Anna knew little about the war efforts in Europe.

When the news broke about the D-Day invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, Anna and her fellow soldiers were overwhelmed with pride and happiness.

“We tossed our white caps into the air,” Anna remembers. “Throughout San Francisco everyone was celebrating. We couldn’t believe we did it.”

When WWII ended in September of 1945 Anna was in New York City. She was filled with relief and pure joy to see an end to the devastation. For Anna’s parents, the end of the war meant Anna and five of her six brothers would no longer be in harm’s way.

While her time as a Pharmacist’s Mate First Class came to an end, Anna’s service to our country as a military spouse continued. While at Treasure Island, Anna met and married Joe Barnett, a hospital corpsman from Alabama. Anna and Joe had one son Curtis Barnett, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, a beloved veterinarian who worked in Cumberland County until his death in 2017. Following Joe’s passing, Anna remarried. Her second husband, who also served in the military, has since passed away.

In July, Anna will celebrate her 99th birthday. Last year, during the closures of the COVID-19 pandemic, Anna’s community recognized her special day with a parade of cars passing her home. This year, Anna hopes to see her friends and neighbors in person. At nearly 99, Anna greets each day with gratitude and happiness.

“I’m honored I could serve my country,” Anna adds. “My life has been filled with blessings.”

Esther Mutua’s Journey Home

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In loving memory of Esther Ndunge MutuaChinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” For many of us, taking that first step requires the support and guidance of others. Recently, the staff at Homeland Hospice helped Esther Mutua take that first step to secure medical clearance and support services to travel more than 7,000 miles to her home in Nairobi, Kenya to spend time with her family during her end-of-life journey.

Esther’s story began last spring when she was diagnosed with stage four-pancreatic cancer while visiting her daughter Rachel White in Harrisburg. Esther and her husband frequently traveled between their home in Nairobi to Harrisburg to spend time with Rachel, their son, and grandchildren.

“My mother loved spending time with all of her family,” Rachel says, “While she traveled often, her home and heart were always in Nairobi.”

After learning of her diagnosis, Esther began medical treatment to combat the cancer. When all treatments and medical options were exhausted, she decided to return to Nairobi for her remaining days. Rachel planned her mother’s return to Nairobi beginning at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport and connecting with Kenya Airways. At JFK, Rachel learned her mother needed a special form from her doctor to allow her to travel. Esther was turned away from her flight and dream of going home.

When the family returned to Harrisburg, a friend recommended Homeland Hospice to Rachel to help provide pain management, comfort and support to Esther. Homeland Hospice is a nonprofit hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania. Esther received a team of care to include a registered nurse case manager, hospice medical director, attending physician, volunteer coordinator, social worker, counselor and nursing aide assistants.

During their initial visit, Laurie Bassler, social worker, and Franchesca Washington, RN, learned about Esther’s wish to travel home to her country.

“Our work is about putting the patient first,” Laurie says. “We immediately went into action to make this happen.”

Over the following weeks, Laurie completed the necessary paperwork for Esther and advised the family about connecting with visiting nurse support for Esther once she returned to Nairobi. Franchesca secured a wheelchair and prescriptions. Esther, accompanied by family members, was able to return home earlier this year. She spent her final two weeks surrounded by her siblings, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and friends.

“We were with Homeland for a short time, but they gave us hope.” Rachel says. “We have comfort and peace knowing my mother’s wishes were honored.”

For Laurie and Franchesca, fulfilling this request was part of a job they love. The hospice team works diligently to understand all of their patient’s needs and desires, as well as those of the family.

“I love being part of a team that strives to overcome every hurdle,” Laurie says. “It’s a privilege to work with our hospice families.”

Homeland Hospice serves 14 counties throughout central Pennsylvania, providing end-of-life care either in a person’s home or wherever they reside, including nursing facilities. Homeland staff becomes even more closely involved as death approaches. This is one of hospice’s greatest strengths – helping the patient and loved ones cope as a person approaches life’s end.

To learn more, please contact Homeland Hospice at (717) 221-7890.

Pete and Pat Crosson: A Love That Knew No Bounds

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Pete and Pat Crosson in Formal AttireTelevision commercials portray Valentine’s Day as a time of grand gestures with red roses, jewelry and expensive dinners as the manner to express one’s love. Pete and Pat Crosson of McVeytown always knew what really mattered in love and lived everyday like it was Valentine’s Day. The couple demonstrated their love for one another through mutual respect, friendship and support for 57 years. They joined together as two individuals in their teenage years to form one unshakable and remarkable union.

“We did everything together because we loved each other’s company,” Pat says. “We never needed expensive vacations, just time together as a family made us complete.”

This Valentine’s Day will be the first Pat will not celebrate with Pete, who died last April after a brief and heroic battle with leukemia. During his final days, Pete received services from Homeland Hospice, a nonprofit hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

For the Crosson family, the work of Homeland is personal. Pete and Pat’s daughter Buffie Finney is the Assistant Director of Clinical Marketing for Homeland Hospice and their granddaughter, Bethany Traxler, is the Assistant Director of Activities for Homeland Center.

The story of Pete and Pat began at a summer “hop” held in their community. They married and had two children, Rick and Buffie. The couple moved into their home more than 50 years ago and filled the house with cherished memories. Their home was the place of family dinners on Sunday afternoons where hunting and fishing stories were shared and grandchildren and great grandchildren were doted on.

From their house, Pete and Pat often watched a white deer, a rare and beautiful creature, through their window. During Pete’s end of life journey he found comfort and peace watching the deer gracefully approach his home. After his passing, Pete’s family purchased a headstone with an etching of the home he and Pat shared. The white deer stands like a proud sentinel in the engraving.

Pete and Pat’s love extends beyond the couple’s time together and is a living legacy for their beloved granddaughter Bethany.

“My grandparents cherished the good times, but also took on the challenges of life together,” Bethany says. “The longer they were married, the more in sync they became.”

For Bethany, the lessons of a marriage filled with love and a life well lived are among the gifts she has learned from her grandparents and strives to emulate in her own life.

“My grandfather was a hardworking man,” Bethany adds. “He liked to say no one should ever call off work just because it’s a sunny day.”

These words of wisdom have guided Bethany in her career. Bethany began her time with Homeland as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) before moving on to serve as a marketing liaison. Around the time of her grandfather’s death, Bethany was thinking about the next step in her career and decided to return to college to advance her degree. While her plans were underway, she hadn’t shared this information with her grandparents.

Nurse Bethany and Pat Crosson at Homeland Hospice 5kDuring Pete’s final days, he frequently asked for Nurse Bethany to come to his aid. Bethany remained vigilant by his side for emotional support, allowing this hospice team to handle his direct care. While she wondered why he referred to her as a nurse, this warm and loving term of endearment let her know her grandfather saw Bethany as someone who would always be there for him.

Weeks following his death, Bethany shared her college plans with her grandmother. Bethany is a studying marketing at Central Penn College. Her ultimate goal is a degree in Health Care Administration. Like her grandfather, Bethany’s hard work is tested every day as she balances her education with her new position as assistant director of activities for Homeland Center.

“One of Pete’s final wishes was for Bethany to further her education,” Pat says. “I think he was trying to communicate this message to her by calling her Nurse Bethany.”

As February 14 comes closer and many of us frantically send cards and place orders for flowers, Bethany and Pat will honor Pete by simply loving their family without limits or boundaries. As Bethany takes on her new role with Homeland, she will undoubtedly find herself staring at Pete’s wedding ring, which she has worn since the night he died. Pat is transforming Pete’s shirts into pillows for his grandchildren and great grandchildren.

“It’s the little things that add up in a lifetime,” Pat says. “These are the memories I will always cherish.”

Honoring a Hero During the COVID-19 Crisis

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Major Henry “Hank” Heim planned every detail of his funeral. Similar to the funeral of President John F. Kennedy, Hank wanted his final farewell to represent valor, honor and duty with representation from active service members. For Hank, his funeral would be a love-letter to the country he honored and served.

Sadly, Hank died in early April, a few weeks shy of his 99th birthday. His passing during the COVID-19 pandemic has put a temporary hold on his funeral plans.  COVID-19 also prevented his son and daughter-in-law, who have health issues, from being with him during his final days. Fortunately, Hank’s granddaughter visited him daily, offering him comfort and support.

Hank lived at Messiah Village in Mechanicsburg. As his health declined, he received nursing care and support through Homeland Hospice. Homeland Hospice is a hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

“As I learned more about Hank, I knew we must do something to honor him, ” says Hannah Miller, BSN, RN with Homeland Hospice. “He was an inspiration and true American hero.”

Hannah and her team decided to purchase an American flag to drape over Hank’s body after his passing. Knowing the challenges currently facing small businesses, Hannah contacted Ace Hardware in Lemoyne and described the circumstances. The team at Ace went into action and found a flag. They insisted on donating it after learning about Hank’s remarkable service to our country.

Hank was born into a poor, coal-mining family. At age five the family moved from Trevorton, Pennsylvania to Wiconisco, a small town in Dauphin County. When he wasn’t in school, Hank helped his father in the mines. His adolescent years were fraught with challenges. Coming from the poorest family in town, Hank was often the subject of ridicule at school. His high school classmates voted Hank “least likely to succeed” because of his circumstances.

“These words stayed with my father,” says Tom Heim, Hank’s son. “They didn’t defeat him, rather, they made him more determined to succeed.”

At 17, Hank was working in the mines when he was trapped in a cave-in. His father worked furiously through the shale to save his son. This near-death experience ended Hank’s time in the mines. Soon after, Hank joined the U.S. Air Force.

Hank was stationed Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii the morning of December 7, 1941, when the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service attacked the Pearl Harbor Naval Base and neighboring Hickam Air Force Base. Hank witnessed the fall of friends and brothers in arms.

As the U.S. fully engaged in World War II, Hank wanted to do more for his country. He noticed a poster advertising the need for pilots. Hank asked to enter flight school and was told he would never pass the test because he was “just a high school kid” and not a college graduate.

Hank was determined to become a pilot and wouldn’t be deterred. He completed flight school and was the first student in his class to solo a flight. Hank was one of two non-college graduates to successfully pass the course.

“My father was used to being underestimated,” Tom says. “Time and time again, he proved people wrong.”

Hank became a B-17 bomber pilot completing 78 missions in North Africa, Sicily and Germany. At the time, most pilots completed an average of nine flights before they were shot down. When the Korean War broke out, Hank flew the B-29 bomber for 51 missions. His courage was second to none.

Following his time in the military, Hank returned to a quiet life in New Cumberland with his wife and two children. He went on to work as a construction foreman for Bell Telephone for 30 years.

Hank’s assimilation to family life was seamless and very much in line with other soldiers of his generation. He never spoke about his military experience or shared stories of his flights with his children until he was approached to speak at a local high school.

“A friend of mine was a history teacher and asked my dad to speak to his students,” Tom recalls. “My mouth dropped when he began to speak. I couldn’t believe what my father had experienced.”

As Hank began opening up to his children, they learned about the many friends he lost in the military and his near-death experiences as a pilot.

“It’s a surreal moment when you realize your father has shaped American history,” Tom adds. “He is every definition of a hero.”

In his retirement, Hank spoke to countless high school students bringing the realities of war into the classroom. He spoke to the students with warmth and grace, never wanting to frighten them, merely sharing the often unspoken perils of war.

Hank was a member of the Central Pennsylvania World War II Roundtable and was featured in a documentary produced by PCN on World War II veterans. He also shared his story with local news stations and newspapers.

For his valor, courage and service to our country, Hank received the Distinguish Flying Cross, the highest honor bestowed by the Air Force. He is featured in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. He also received two Purple Hearts and two Presidential Unit Citations in addition to countless accolades for his heroism.

During Hank’s final days he found comfort in music. While his right foot was paralyzed due to a result illness, he kept perfect time with his left foot to John Phillip Sousa’s military marches.

“I’m so proud of my father,” Tom says. “As a father, husband and American, he was remarkable in every way.”

Godspeed Major Heim.

To learn more about Homeland Hospice, please call (717) 221-7890.

Meet Master Storyteller Bill Williams

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Bill receives nursing care, support from a social worker and complimentary massage services through Homeland Hospice.Bill Williams is a master storyteller with a love of news, history and family. For Bill, knowing the joys and challenges of his ancestors has fueled his career ambitions and love of a good story.

Bill resides in Mechanicsburg with his wife of 60 years, Mary Jane. He receives nursing care, support from a social worker and complimentary massage services through Homeland Hospice. Homeland Hospice is a hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania. Each month, Bill receives 32 hours of complimentary in-home relief, which gives Mary Jane respite from her role as a caregiver.

The first chapter of Bill’s story begins in South Whales where his parents were born. Bill’s father, like most men in his family, worked as a coal miner beginning at age 12. During this point in history, most children attending public school left after fifth grade to begin working to help support their families.

Bill’s father continued mining until he turned 21 and married Bill’s mother. Two years later, Bill’s parents and uncles immigrated to Scranton where they had a base of family and social connections.

Growing up, Bill loved his history and English courses in school. From his father’s stories of life working in the mines, Bill knew he wanted to attend college to pursue his love of writing.

“Numbers won’t do you any good in life,” Bill says. “You need letters to live.”

When he was 12 years old, Bill’s parents took the family to visit Harrisburg and Gettysburg. The Gettysburg battlefields and the stories surrounding this historic location fascinated Bill. It was the beginning of a life-long love of the town and its impact on history.

In high school, Bill took a job as a copy boy at The Times Tribune where he worked an eight-hour shift three nights a week. Following high school, Bill began studying journalism at Penn State University and entered the U.S. Navy Reserve.

At the end of his sophomore year in college, Bill was reclassified from reserve to active duty and assigned to serve on the USS Coral Sea for two years.

“It was my duty and honor to serve my country,” Bill says. “To this day, it remains one of my proudest moments.”

Following his time in the Navy, Bill returned to Penn State for his junior year. He was unable to finish his senior year because of financial difficulties. During his final months at Penn State, Bill met and married Mary Jane, a math teacher. They spent their honeymoon in Gettysburg walking the grounds of the battlefields.

“From the beginning, we were a perfect match,” Mary Jane says. “My love of numbers balanced with his love of letters.”

Following their marriage, Bill began an illustrious career in journalism. He worked as a reporter and news editor for newspapers in smaller markets before becoming the Mid-Atlantic hub editor for the Associated Press in Philadelphia. Bill and his family relocated to Harrisburg in 1974 when he became bureau chief for the Associated Press at the State Capitol. His final position was director of communications for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Following his retirement, Bill focused his time and talents on writing historical novels, a play, one nonfiction book and an ongoing column for a Welsh newspaper.Following his retirement, Bill focused his time and talents on writing historical novels, a play, one nonfiction book and an ongoing column for a Welsh newspaper.

“That was when the fun began,” Bill says. “I finally had time for my love of history and writing.”

Bill has written eight books since his retirement. Days of Darkness, which sold more than 50,000 copies in paperback, tells the story of life in Gettysburg two weeks before the epic battle. Bill read countless books, diaries and accounts of daily life for the town’s residents to tell this moving story.

Among his many books, The Coal King’s Slaves, written in 2002 remains his favorite.

“I wrote it to honor my father,” Bill adds. “It brings his experiences in the mines to life.”

Bill’s latest book, Smile, is a compilation of jokes from columns he has written for a Welsh newspaper. His granddaughter designed the book cover.

“I’ve passed along my love of the written word to all our children and grandchildren,” Bill jokes. “Mary Jane remains the only fan of numbers in the family.”

In every chapter of Bill’s life, Mary Jane has been the consummate partner and supporter. She has trekked countless battlefields and has a flawless memory for the details of Bill’s books.

From copy boy to author, Bill has incorporated his experiences and those of his family into masterful and moving stories.

To learn more about Homeland Hospice, please call (717) 221-7890.

Gaura Khanal’s Brave Path to Citizenship

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Printed with permission from Gaura and her family.

While physically petite, Gaura Khanal of Mechanicsburg is a pillar of strength, perseverance and love for her family and community. Last fall, she became a United States citizen at age 96.

“My grandmother beamed with pride the day her citizenship was finalized,” Devi, her grandson, says. “She held on to her flag for three days.”

Devi, his wife Maya and sons help care for Gaura, who they affectionately call Granny. She receives services through Homeland Hospice. Homeland Hospice is a hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

Gaura’s dream of citizenship began more than a decade ago when she moved to the United States at age 85 after a lifetime of transitions and challenges.

Gaura was born in the Kingdom of Bhutan in the Eastern Himalayas. According to tradition, she was committed to an arranged marriage at age five and lived with her family until she turned 16 when she was united with her husband. A year following her marriage, Gaura gave birth to her son and only child. Six months later, her husband died. Gaura never remarried.

When she was 65, Gaura joined her son (Devi’s father) and his family at a refugee camp in Nepal after years of living under political unrest in Bhutan. While Gaura lived close to her immediate family, many extended family members lived in other camps, making communications difficult.

In 2009, Gaura moved to New Hampshire with her son, daughter-in-law and Devi’s family. The trip from Napal took two days and left Gaura tired and very weak. She was overwhelmed by the language barrier and drastic changes in her environment.

“Granny is a very strong woman,” Maya says. “She was determined to make it to the United States with her family.”

Several years ago, the family relocated to Mechanicsburg to be closer to extended family members and the growing Nepalese community. Gaura often spends time with her extended family in Harrisburg. She has seven grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

“My sons love Granny,” Devi says. “They have a unique and special bond.”

Gaura’s determination to become a U.S. citizen is grounded in her search to find a place to call home. Her native country of Bhutan was rocked by civil unrest and her time in Nepal was always intended to be temporary. Finally, in a quiet neighborhood in Mechanicsburg, Gaura is home.

“Becoming a U.S. citizen has brought Granny peace,” Devi adds. “Our entire family is full of pride and happiness.”

Homeland Hospice serves 14 counties throughout Central Pennsylvania by providing end-of-life care in either a person’s home or wherever they reside, including nursing facilities. Homeland also provides bereavement support to families for a full 13 months following the death of their loved one. This service is available to anyone in the community who is experiencing grief.

For Love of Country: Retired Chief Petty Officer and Corpsman John Keeney

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Retired Chief Petty Officer and Corpsman John Keeney died on August 4, 2019. On July 24, 2019, Homeland Hospice honored John for his remarkable courage and sacrifice for our country. We share this article to honor John’s legacy.

“When I returned from active duty in Vietnam, I was greeted by protesters in San Francisco,” retired Chief Petty Officer and Corpsman John Keeney recalled. “I’ve held on to that hurt until today.”

On July 24, 2019, Homeland Hospice along with the Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Harrisburg, Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) and local retired Chief Petty Officers recognized John with a special pinning ceremony for his remarkable valor and allegiance to our country. Homeland Hospice is a hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

Retired Chief Petty Officer and Corpsman John Keeney and Co.

At the time of the ceremony, John was a resident of Harmony at West Shore in Mechanicsburg. In addition to active and retired military officers, John’s family, residents of Harmony and members of the community gathered to honor him for his selfless acts of courage during some of the darkest hours in our country’s history.

As a Navy corpsman, John provided medical support to sailors and Marines in combat during his tour in the Korean War and two tours in the Vietnam War. As a sign of respect, the Marines address corpsman as “Doc.” A distinguished few are known as “Devil Doc” for their proven valor in battle. John was a Devil Doc.

At the pinning ceremony, Command Chief Christian Jimenez, NOSC Harrisburg, presented John with a Navy anchor pin insignia and named him honorary member of the master chiefs association.

“From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your service,” Jimenez said. “You are what we all aspire to become.”

At the close of the ceremony, Chaplain Mark P. Harris, M.A., M.Div., Spiritual Counselor at Homeland Hospice, led military members in a salute to John. Mark also retired from the United States Navy as a corpsman and has a special place in his heart for his fellow “Docs.”

For Love of Country: Retired Chief Petty Officer and Corpsman John Keeney

“John lived the words ‘country first,’” Marks said. “Despite the challenges of combat, he was a humble servant to our nation up until his last day.”

During his tours of duty in Vietnam, John was responsible for completing the necessary paperwork to ensure qualified sailors and Marines received their Purple Heart Medals. He put his comrades first and turned down two Purple Heart Medals because he felt others were more deserving.

Eleven days following the pinning ceremony, John died.

“I spent time with John several days after the ceremony,” Mark adds. “He felt at peace with himself and the world around him. It was an honor to know him.”

Homeland honors all who served through its We Honor Veterans program, created by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The program works to improve the quality of health care for all veterans. Homeland Hospice has been part of the program for seven years.

To learn more, please contact Homeland Hospice at (717) 221-7890.

From Caregivers to Friends: The Big Four

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Friends are like four-leaf clovers: Hard to find, but lucky to have

It started with a song and ended with a tribe of four. “The Big Four,” as they like to be called, met when Pat Taksen’s husband, Arne, received Homeland Hospice care from 2016 to 2018. An Army veteran, Arne died on September 11, 2018, a day of remembrance in our country, which coincided with the start of the Jewish New Year. Homeland Hospice is a hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

Pat’s Homeland team of support included Amy Zegers, RN case manager; Laurie Bassler, social worker; and Angelo Evans, Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). During their time together, the group formed a remarkable bond while loving and caring for Arne.

“The first time we met, Arne serenaded me with the song ‘Once in Love With Amy,’” Amy says. “I knew I was meeting someone special.”

Arne, a lover of conversation, made the most of his time with his Homeland team. Pat often taught them Yiddish so Arne could quiz the team on what they had learned. He enjoyed sharing highlights from his five-decade career as the owner of D&L Distributing Co., a coin operated amusement business in Harrisburg. In retirement, Arne started NJG (Nice Jewish Guy), a successful driving service.

“Arne could make any story into an adventure,” Amy adds. “He never missed an opportunity to share his life experiences with us and bring a smile to our faces.”

During Arne’s 21 months of hospice care, he battled cancer and dementia. As the dementia progressed, Arne wasn’t able to cognitively understand the toll cancer was taking on his body. The Homeland team worked closely with his family to identify changes in his physical behavior. Together they helped Arne pinpoint the source of his symptoms. He often used drawings to communicate his pain and discomfort.

“The Homeland team welcomed me with open arms,” Pat says. “We became as close as family in the way we cared for Arne and for each other.”

Through Arne’s end-of-life journey, he left a legacy in the people he brought together to care for him. Following his death, The Big Four continues to meet for dinner, which include sharing memories of Arne. Most recently, they gathered to honor the one-year anniversary of Arne’s death and the unveiling of his tombstone.

“Some people come into our lives for a reason and some for a season,” Amy says. “I’m so blessed Arne and Pat Taksen came into my life.”

Homeland provides a full continuum of services to care for patients, and to support families, as their needs change.

Homeland Hospice teams are comprised of a registered nurse case manager, hospice medical director, attending physician, volunteer coordinator, social workers, counselors, home health aides and others. All team members are patient- and family-focused.

For more information, call Homeland Hospice at (717) 221-7890.