Rebe Etta Weikert

LITTLESTOWN Rebe Etta Leach Weikert, 97, died Saturday, February 2, 2013. She was born January 28, 1916, in Akron, Ohio, the older daughter of H. Thomas and Anna (Bailey) Leach. When she was 13 years old, Rebe Etta's father lost his employment in Akron as a result of the depression, and the family was forced to relocate to several communities as he sought steady work during the 1930's. They moved to Bath, N.Y., then to Ridgeway, Pa., eventually settling in Lewistown, where Rebe graduated from high school in 1933. Finally, both parents found employment in Harrisburg, where Rebe lived until she moved to Littlestown as a bride. Following high school, Rebe worked at a variety of jobs typical of post-high school employees of the period, including as a soda fountain clerk. In 1934, she enrolled at Pennsylvania State College, where she pledged Chi Omega sorority, served as a secretary to the campus chaplain, and received a degree in Commerce and Finance. At Penn State, Rebe met the love of her life, Charley Weikert, who told her on their first date that he would marry her. They worked side by side at Weikert's Bakery and shared a loving, fun-filled, often adventurous life for 69 years until Charley's death in 2010. They both loved to dance, and were admired as graceful dancers well into their 80's. They enjoyed dances at local hotels and fraternal clubs for many years and belonged to the York Cotillion in the 1960's. After college, Rebe worked at Merchants' and Businessman's Insurance in Harrisburg until she married and moved to Littlestown in 1941. She and Charley raised daughters, Marietta (Witt) and Jill (Ortner), while successfully running the family-owned bakery. Rebe also enjoyed an active social life as a member of two card clubs, and she maintained a busy life as a volunteer for civic organizations and St. Paul's Lutheran Church. Rebe served in many board positions, including program chair and president of the Littlestown Women's Community Club. She was a member and occasional program chair of the American Association of University Women, Gettysburg Chapter. She served several terms on the board of directors of the Community Concerts Association and eagerly attended all their concerts in Gettysburg, Frederick, and Chambersburg. No snow storm or scheduling obstacle prevented Rebe from enjoying live performances of her favorite opera singers, chamber ensembles, and choral arts performers. Rebe was an avid and respected bridge player. She played as often as time permitted, especially after the bakery was sold to son-in-law, Jim Witt. She regularly played duplicate bridge in Westminster, Md., where she and her partners often scored high in a field of accomplished competitors. She did not just read the daily bridge column in the newspaper, but actually played out the hand as if she had won the bid. Her day was made if she played it successfully and scored as high as the bridge champion who originally played the hand. Her other daily newspaper challenge was to complete the crossword puzzle in record time. Woe to the person who interrupted her while she was doing the crossword puzzle and caused her to take more than five minutes to finish. In 1961, the Weikert family added another member to the close-knit circle. Einar Sigurbjörnsson, an Icelandic exchange student, lived with Rebe and Charley for a year. The ties to Einar were cemented when Rebe and Charley spent three weeks in Iceland in 1966, meeting his family and traveling throughout his beautiful homeland. They visited Iceland again briefly in 1995, and last fall, Rebe was thrilled when Einar and his wife, Gudrun Edda, visited her again as he returned to celebrate his 50th class reunion. Rebe and Charley traveled extensively throughout the U.S. They visited every one of the 50 states, including three trips to Alaska. They were "active vacationers" before the term was in common use, always exploring off the beaten path, especially hiking out to waterfalls and other natural attractions. In addition to visits to Iceland, they also spent two weeks traveling through Denmark and Norway. For many years, the Weikerts enjoyed vacationing at the Chautauqua Institution in Western New York, where they found the combination of live music, theater, religious studies, and educational opportunities stimulating and restorative. Rebe also didn't mind that she could play duplicate bridge twice a week while she was there. Everyone who knew Rebe noticed her definitive sense of style and fashion. For many years, she created her own designer fashions. She enjoyed the challenge of creating a unique fashion statement that fit within her budget, even though she insisted that she hated being a seamstress. As they were growing up, her daughters also basked in the compliments they received when wearing one of her very well-crafted creations. Her flair for design was also reflected in the style and originality she brought to her home. Rebe carefully selected furnishings and accent pieces to create a stylish, yet comfortable environment. She and Charley also collected more than 50 original artworks, mostly by local artists, to add a distinctive touch to their Civil War era residence and later to their newly built home on Easy Street in Littlestown. In 2007, Rebe and Charley moved to an independent living apartment at Utz Terrace - Lutheran Retirement Village in Hanover. After a few years, they settled into a unit in Personal Care where Rebe continued to enjoy the social life and supportive care of Utz Terrace. Rebe was predeceased by a sister, Marjorie Irene, her parents, and her beloved husband, Charley. She is survived by her daughters; granddaughters, Betsy Bein (Robert) and Jennifer Yingling; grandson, Eric Ortner; and four great-grandchildren, Charley and Will Bein and Owen and Elena Yingling. Friends are invited to remember and celebrate Rebe Etta Leach Weikert's life at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, W. King St., Littlestown, on Thursday, February 7, at 11 a.m. Reception and luncheon will follow the service. Memorial contributions can be made to the Benevolent Fund, Utz Terrace - Lutheran Retirement Village, 2100 Utz Terrace, Hanover, PA 17331. Little's Funeral Home, Littlestown, is assisting the family. Online condolences may be shared on www.littlesfh.com

Published in Evening Sun on Feb. 4, 2013