Archives: Patient Spotlights


‘In Sickness and In Health’: Local Couple Faces End-of-Life Journey with Courage


“In sickness and in health” are five simple words couples pledge on their wedding day. These words become the most sacred of promises during challenging times.

Debra and Mike of Dauphin County have kept this vow for 57 years of marriage. During their decades together they have raised two children, hosted countless holiday meals and celebrated birthday parties in the home they have shared for 52 years. Their lives changed when the “in sickness” chapter began six years ago when Mike’s health began to deteriorate. But Debra is not alone in caring for Mike. She has the compassion and support of Homeland Hospice to help her keep her promise.

Mike has struggled with various health challenges since 2009 when he underwent heart bypass surgery. His health began to decline rapidly in 2017 when he was diagnosed with Venous Disease, which forms painful blisters and skin discoloration from his knees to his ankles. The severity of the disease makes him unable to walk without the assistance of a walker. Around this time, Mike was also diagnosed with dementia.

In November of 2022, the culmination of Mike’s illnesses led to a 10-day hospital stay. Debra and her children knew Mike could not come home and solely rely on the care of his family. Debra was aware of Homeland’s reputation for high-quality, compassionate care and explored their continuum of care services. She toured Homeland Center, a private, nonprofit retirement community in Harrisburg, as well as the organization’s outreach services.

“I wanted to know all the possible options of care for Mike’s changing health needs,” Debra says. “Homeland alleviated my concerns.”

Debra and her children decided home care would provide Mike the most comfort and peace. Debra’s son rearranged the living room for Mike’s return from his hospital stay.

“Mike’s bed faces the window so he can watch the deer outside,” Debra says. “I know this brings him joy.”

When Mike first returned home, he received palliative care services from Homeland to help manage his health issues. As his well-being continued to decline, Mike transitioned to Homeland Hospice care for his end-of-life journey.

Mike’s dementia and advanced health issues makes communication and movement very difficult. Dementia doesn’t just impact individuals with the disease. It places a significant emotional burden on caregivers, as they strive to adjust to the stages and nuances of the illness.

Through the services offered by Homeland Hospice, Mike receives routine visits from a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) to help with bathing and dressing as well as medication reminders and administration. Mike also has the support of a nurse and social worker to provide a complete team of support. Recently, Mike began receiving massages to relieve pain. This is part of the complementary therapies offered by Homeland Hospice.

“Everyone genuinely cares about us,” Debra says. “I no longer spend every minute of my day consumed by worry.”

In addition to medical care and support, Mike has received cards and notes of encouragement from volunteers around the country. The cards are delivered thanks to the generous efforts or Homeland volunteers and Volunteer Match, an online program to engage individuals with volunteer opportunities.

“Mike and I look forward to receiving cards,” Debra adds. “We are very grateful for this act of love and kindness.”

The support provided by Homeland Hospice brings Debra peace of mind and allows her and Mike to live each day as fully as possible.

“I appreciate every minute Mike and I have together,” Debra says. “It is in God’s hands now.”

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

A Lifetime of Love: Carol and Joe Moomaw


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


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.


Love, Laughter and Determination in Sickness and in Health


carol and clyde cressler, homeland resident

Meet Carol and Clyde Cressler

After 57 years of marriage, Carol and Clyde Cressler of Mechanicsburg know how to bring out the best in one another. They laugh at each other’s jokes, share similar passions and take on life’s challenges as a team. When Clyde was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at age 55, Carol became his advocate, learning everything she could about the disorder. With the help of caregivers, including Homeland Hospice, Clyde is managing his disease and finds happiness in the small blessings of life.

“My wife can do anything,” Clyde says with a smile. “Sometimes all at once.”

Carol and Clyde met while pursing degrees in elementary education at Shippensburg University. After college, Carol taught at Shaull Elementary School and Clyde taught at Sporting Hill. After several years, Clyde returned to college and earned his pharmacy degree. He went on to create Care Capital Management, a pharmaceutical company, which owned and operated 18 Medicine Shoppe pharmacies in the region. They sold the business in 2021.

The couple’s life plans changed when Clyde was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1998 not long after he had heart surgery. Parkinson’s causes some brain cells to die, particularly those making dopamine. The impacted brain cells help control movement and coordination. While tremors are common, the disorder also causes stiffness or slowing of movement. Clyde’s greatest struggles involve walking and stiffness in his legs. While there is no cure for the disease, medications and movement can help with treatment.

After the couple learned of Clyde’s diagnosis, they joined support groups, attended conferences and connected with a medical team committed to Clyde’s treatment. At one conference, they met Michael J. Fox, actor, author and advocate for Parkinson’s disease.

Carol keeps a photo of the actor taken with her and Clyde on the outside of one of her many binders. The binders include flyers of events, medical notes and her personal research meticulously organized to chronicle Clyde’s treatment.

“When your spouse has a disease you have it too,” Carol says. “We promised in our wedding vows to support one another in sickness and in health.”

Ten years ago, Carol began leading a local support group for families impacted by Parkinson’s disease. Through the group, Carol has developed friendships with other caregivers.

“It is comforting to be around people who understand what we are going through,” Carol says. “I don’t know what I would do without their support.”

In 2015, Clyde had Deep Brain Surgery (DBS), which inserts electrodes into a targeted area of the brain and an impulse generator battery (like a pacemaker) in the chest. The impulse generator battery provides an electrical impulse to a part of the brain involved in motor function.

To further help delay the disease by keeping Clyde’s body in motion; the couple has taken dance classes at Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Lemoyne. Despite Clyde’s illness he learned to tango, waltz, rumba and swing dance. Clyde also practiced boxing through Rock Steady Boxing, which helps people with Parkinson’s improve their flexibility and range of motion.

In late 2019 into early 2020, Clyde began experiencing delusions. Following a series of medical issues and hospitalizations, Clyde’s doctors took him off his Parkinson’s medications, which were causing the delusions. While one component of his health was treated, Clyde’s ability to move became far more challenging requiring additional assistance.

Carol connected with the team at Homeland Hospice to provide additional care to meet Clyde’s changing circumstances. The Homeland teams includes 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, allowing Clyde and Carol to be in control at all times.

While Clyde and Carol look forward to their regular appointments with the Homeland team, they are delighted by visits from Reynaldo (Rey) Villarreal, chaplain for Homeland Hospice who shares his love of music through singing and playing his guitar.

“We both love music,” Carol says. “Rey plays the guitar and sings beautifully which lifts both our spirits.”

In the coming days, Clyde will have his first therapeutic massage provided by Homeland.

“We’re very grateful for the Homeland team,” Carol adds. “They care about the well-being of both of us.”

Among their many daily visits from caregivers, family and friends, Carol and Clyde find comfort and happiness from their children and grandchildren along with their dog Honey who keeps a loving and watchful eye over Clyde.

“To find contentment while battling a disease is to admit acceptance,” Carol says. “This is just one season in our life together.”

Homeland Hospice is a hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania. To learn more, please contact Homeland Hospice at (717) 221-7890.

The Remarkable Life of Anna Weinfurter, WWII Veteran


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


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


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



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


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


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.