SUNBURY — A pioneer woman in the funeral profession, E. Jane Wirt MacDonald Wetzel, 94, of Sunbury, passed away Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, at the Home Hospice at Maria Hall, Danville.
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Born May 22, 1918, Jane, along with her sister, Ethel Wirt Blank, who predeceased her in 1980, managed the Wirt Funeral Home in Sunbury for 20 years, from 1948 to 1968. Ms. Wetzel and her sister were known to bring a caring and professional experience to the work.
Jane was a familiar sight and warm greeter, known to many as "Aunt Jane," at the Jerre Wirt Blank Funeral Home, Sunbury, where she continued to work until the time of her death.
She was a 1936 graduate of Sunbury High School, subsequently earning an associate's 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 lifetime. 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 in the family.
Ms. Wetzel was married twice, first to Hector MacDonald, owner of Kauffman's Men's Store in Sunbury, and then to Glenn Wetzel, both of whom 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 wife, Nicole, and great-nieces, Penelope Blank Hupp and her husband, Robert, and Abigail Blank Nunn and her husband, Thomas. Also surviving are 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 in Sunbury, Eastern Star 266, Linden Hall Alumnae Association, Lambda Zeta Nu scholastic honorary society, Business and Professional Women's Club. Fort Augusta Chapter of the DAR and the Northumberland County Historical Society.
WETZEL — E. Jane Wirt MacDonald Wetzel, 94, of Sunbury. 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 Monday in the United Lutheran Cemetery, Wolfe's Crossroads.
Published in The News Item on Nov. 30, 2012