The Daily Item
SUNBURY — A pioneer woman in the funeral profession, E. Jane Wirt MacDonald Wetzel, 94, of Sunbury, passed away on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, at the Home Hospice at Maria Hall, Danville.
She was born May 22, 1918.
Jane, along with her sister, Ethel Wirt Blank, who preceded her in death in 1980, managed the Wirt Funeral Home in Sunbury for 20 years, from 1948 until 1968. Ms. Wetzel and her sister were known to bring a caring and professional experience to the work. Jane was a familiar sign and warm greeter, known to many as “Aunt Jane,” at the Jerre Wirt Blank Funeral Home in Sunbury, where she continued to work until the time of her death.
Ms. Wetzel was a 1936 graduate of Sunbury High School, subsequently earning an associate degree from Linden Hall Junior College, a women’s college in Lititz. She was proud of her accomplishments there and continued to support their educational efforts throughout her life. She completed the course of study at the Eckles College of Mortuary Science in Philadelphia to earn her funeral director’s license.
The Wirt Funeral Home near Seven Points was begun in 1887 by her grandfather, John Wirt, a builder of caskets. In 1927, Jane’s parents, Earl and Laura Wirt, opened the Earl Wirt Funeral Home in Sunbury. At the time of her father’s death, his daughters purchased the business, assumed full responsibility and became the third generation of professional funeral directors.
Ms. Wetzel was married twice, first to Hector MacDonald, owner of Kauffman’s Men’s store in Sunbury, and then to Glenn Wetzel. They predeceased her.
Jane’s nephew, Jerre Wirt Blank, of Northumberland, survives her, as does her niece, Caroll J. Blank, and her life partner, Helen Nunn, of Lewisburg. Additional survivors are a great-nephew, David Blank, who is a partner with his father in the funeral business, and his wife, Nicole; great-nieces, Penelope Blank Hupp and husband Robert and Abigail Blank Nunn and husband Thomas; and six great-great-nephews, Garrett, Connor, Aiden, Spencer, Tobias and Daniel.
Jane was an avid reader, collector of antiques and gourmet cook.
She was a member of Bethany Evangelical Church, Sunbury, Eastern Star 266, the Linden Hall Alumni Association, Lambda Zeta Nu scholastic honorary society, the Business and Professional Women’s Club, the Fort Augusta Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Northumberland County Historical Society.
A viewing will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Jerre Wirt Blank Funeral Home, 395 State St., Sunbury.
Interment will take place privately on Monday in the family plot in the United Lutheran Cemetery at Wolf’s Crossroads.