Beth Stoner loves to paint flowers, and though her artwork isn’t on display at Homeland, her artistry is on view in another sense. At the entrances to Homeland are colorful planters that Beth helped create. Brimming with flowers, they extend a cheery welcome to residents and visitors alike.
Homeland has a unique system of dual boards that combine to assure a well-run, comfortable facility. The Board of Directors oversees policies and finances, while the Board of Managers enlivens Homeland’s atmosphere with home-like décor and fun activities.
Beth has served on the Board of Managers since August 2018. Growing up, Beth’s parents instilled in her a love of art, music, and history. Classical music recordings were always playing in her home. Her father would stand in front of the hi-fi and pretend to conduct the orchestra – once, even using a conductor’s baton that came with a record.
Beth’s father also took the family to see battlefields in Gettysburg and artwork at the Philadelphia Art Museum, but his professional career followed a more technical path that culminated in his post as executive director of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. During World War II, he worked on the Manhattan Project, the U.S. government’s hush-hush initiative to develop an atom bomb.
“It was all secret, secret, secret,” Beth says. “When the first bomb was dropped, all the wives came out of their homes and wondered if this was what they were there for.”
Beth graduated from Camp Hill High School and then attended Alderson Broadus College – now Alderson Broadus University – in the “little, teeny town of Philippi, West Virginia.” There, she majored in history and minored in sociology and psychology. She spent a semester in Salzburg, Austria, where she had great fun “wandering the city” and exploring Vienna, Italy, and Czechoslovakia.
It’s a habit she continues, with travels that now include England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. She cruised the Baltic last year, but high winds kept her ship in St. Petersburg an extra day, so she didn’t get to disembark in Gdansk.
After graduating from college, Beth returned home and resumed something she had always loved – singing in a church choir. There, she met her future husband, Bill. Within a few years, his health started declining, and he needed dialysis. Beth was learning to operate an in-home dialysis machine, but the day it was supposed to arrive, a call came from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. They had a kidney for him, and he underwent a transplant in January 1977.
“That transplant gave us 14 more years,” she says. Bill’s career took them to New Jersey, Indiana, and Michigan, but as his health deteriorated further, they returned to central Pennsylvania to be close to family. The harsh anti-rejection medications transplant recipients needed in those days eventually took their toll, and Bill died in 1992.
Although much of her time had been devoted to helping care for Bill and accompanying him to regular medical appointments, Beth also worked in various administrative jobs over the years. After he died, she supervised Delta Dental typists for 14 years.
Beth remarried through an improbable series of connections. Her late husband’s former wife, with whom she was always friendly, thought Beth should meet her friend Max Stoner. Then Beth’s next-door neighbor – by coincidence, good friends with the parents of the same Max Stoner – said the same thing. That’s when Beth decided it was time. They met, and they married in 2007.
Max is an environmental engineer, and as the owner of Glace Associates, works with municipalities to develop water systems. Beth still sings and is a member of Market Square Presbyterian Church’s choir. She has two stepsons, two stepdaughters, and four grandchildren.
At Homeland, Beth creates spring and fall plantings, helps set up for activities and serves on the long-range planning and house and grounds committees. Homeland is a good fit for her because she has always loved being around the elderly. Her work helps maintain Homeland’s friendly atmosphere, and that’s gratifying.
“It helps the residents who live here feel more at home,” she says. “It also makes a good impression. It’s very important that the people who come here to visit see a place that’s cheery and pleasant. Homeland is a great place.”