SUNBURY — Don Koons would love to spend one holiday with his long lost family members.
Seventy years ago, a young Paxinos mother by the name of Mabel Mae Koons fell ill with heart failure. Her husband, Owen Koons, chose to distribute four of their five children to other homes. The two youngest children have not been seen by the family since that day in 1947.
Don Koons, of Sunbury, was seven years old when the children were displaced and sent to a local orphanage. Don is now in hospice care as a result of a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer. Koons’ dying wish since diagnosis has been to locate the youngest two siblings who were mysteriously removed from the home with no mention of where they were going.
The Daily Item first told Don’s story in March 2016. Since then, no one has come forward, and Don’s health continues to fail.
The children were Wayne Koons, age two, and Patricia “Patsy” Koons, age one, in 1947. Owen Koons, father of the children, refused to tell his older three children the location of the siblings. Owen was so adamant that he took the location of their whereabouts to his grave.
Mabel Mae Koons passed away seven years after her family was dispersed in 1954.
Don Koons and brother George Koons are the only surviving siblings longing to meet their long lost brother and sister. Older sister Mary Koons Reddinger passed away in 2011.
In an interview with The Daily Item in the spring of 2016, Don Koons said he was sent to an orphanage in Sunbury with sister Mary. By age 15, Don was living life on his own. George, who was three at the time, was the only child to remain at home until his mother’s death. Then he, too, became part of the foster system.
Today, Don’s daughter Dawn Stahl, wife Mary Koons and grandchildren are on a quest to provide Don with his dying wish.
“He cries and prays to God,” Stahl said, “He would love more than anything to be reunited with his brother and sister.”
For nearly a decade Stahl has used social media and genealogy websites to try to gain information on the whereabouts of the two Koons siblings, who would be just more than 70 years old today.
Eight years ago, Stahl said the name Patricia Koons turned up on a genealogy site stating she was born in the Paxinos area and was looking for her siblings. Stahl immediately responded through the website email system.
The woman never returned her message.
Stahl said she does not know if the woman may have given up checking into the site or if she had perhaps passed away.
The search for the pair took an even more urgent turn when Don was diagnosed with cancer in the fall of 2014.
Don has spoken about the mystery to his six children and grandchildren throughout his life, retelling the story and noting points he remembers.
“He said that gramma (Mabel Mae) asked where the babies were,” Stahl said, referring to Wayne and Patsy.
There had been murmurings about the last name Rosenberg and the children potentially moving to the York or Reading area, as George has said he remembered his father mentioning a Mr. and Mrs. Rosenberg when the toddlers were taken out of the house.
Owen Koons also moved to the Reading area later in life, though no one is sure why or if perhaps he was remaining in contact with his two younger children.
A search for Rosenbergs and adoptions has not resulted in any information, Stahl said.
Mary Koons, wife of Donald Koons, said Owen had married two times after Mabel passed away. Neither of those wives had admitted to knowing anything about the children.
Don’s wife also said his brother-in-law, Jack Reddinger, served as a constable in the area years ago. Jack Reddinger tried to obtain documents to see if there had been an actual adoption of Wayne and Patsy, but he was not successful due to the documents being damaged in a flood in the Northumberland County Courthouse. He did, however, speak to a pastor in the Sunbury area who told Jack Reddinger the children were in York and that is all he knew.
“He didn’t get a ‘where’ in York,” Mary Koons said, “And I honestly don’t know who the pastor was. He is probably gone now.”
George confronted his father one last time before he passed away with leukemia in 1980, he told The Daily Item in 2016, but Owen Koons refused to tell him anything about Patsy and Wayne.
Stahl said she cannot understand why no one has come forward since the first Daily Item story was published in spring of 2016. She and her siblings believe someone locally may know something about the removal of Wayne and Patsy from the Koons home in 1947.
Since the only two surviving siblings were small children at the time, memories are all they have, and they are sketchy, she said.
Don Koons turned 77 years old on Nov. 17. His time is short, his wife of 53 years said.
“He was hoping to see them before something happened,” she said, adding that any child or grandchild of Patsy or Wayne would be welcome to meet with the family.
A local genealogist has begun working with the family recently in order to attempt to narrow down the search. Stahl said they will do whatever it takes to find out what happened to Patsy and Wayne, even if her father passes away first.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Dawn Stahl at 570-486-9354.
More information that may be helpful in locating Wayne Koons and Patricia Koons:
Mabel (Smith) Koons grew up in Turbotville and was buried at Clark’s Grove Evangelical United Brethren Church, Irish Valley. The Rev. Russell L. Hoffman was the pastor.
Owen Koons was from Milton and had worked at Grant’s Department Store in Sunbury. His most recent wife’s name was Lois Bowden, whom he married in 1968.