Etta Lois Hess Irwin, 89, formerly of Lancaster, passed away peacefully at the Masonic Village, Elizabethtown, Saturday, February 29, 2020. Born July 5, 1930, she was the daughter of the late John G. Hess and Lottie Diffenbach Hess, formerly of Marietta. For 54 years she was married to the late Rev. Fred H. Irwin, Jr., who passed away April 11, 2012.
Etta’s greatest joy in life, after the joy of serving her Lord, was her family: Susan Vogel, (Gary) of Malvern; Ann Becker of Richland; and Dr. Frederick Irwin, New Brunswick, NJ; and her beloved grandchildren: Ben Becker (Kari), Kate Vogel, Ryan Vogel, and Hunter Irwin. She also is survived by her sister, Dorothy Shoemaker, wife of the late Wilbur Shoemaker, formerly of Lancaster, and many delightful nieces and nephews.
In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by four siblings: her twin sister Esther, her sisters Minerva Boll, Janet Bucher and her brother Mervin Hess.
Etta had an extraordinary zest for life, especially if she could help make someone’s day just a bit brighter. She was a gifted partner in helping her husband serve several parishes: Trinity, Centre Hall; Willow Street UCC; Zion, Womelsdorf; Trinity, Leesport: and Zeltenreich, New Holland.
Her career was varied, having served as Director of Youth Work at First Presbyterian Church in Lancaster; as newspaper editor and photographer for a yacht company; and as executive secretary for a company in Reading, PA. After retirement, she served several years as caregiver for local agencies.
Etta loved music, many times playing the piano for hours, and at times, playing duets with her husband at the organ in some of their parishes. She loved cooking, baking and entertaining. She was known far and wide for her Christmas cookies.
While living at the Masonic Village, she had an opportunity to connect with residents during her daily mail delivery route, a highlight of her day. She was chosen as the Pennsylvania Therapeutic Recreation Society’s Volunteer of the Year for her diverse volunteer activities while living at Masonic Village. Her family would like to thank the compassionate caregivers and staff there who helped her live each day with dignity and joy.
A memorial service will be held Friday, March 6, at First Reformed Church, 40 East Orange Street, Lancaster, where she was a member. Guests may visit the family from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., with a celebration of life service beginning at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, gifts of remembrance may be made to Masonic Village Health Care Center, 600 Freemason Drive, Elizabethtown, PA 17022; or to First Reformed Church, 40 East Orange Street, Lancaster, PA 17602, or to the charity of your choice.