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Alice Bernita Zahniser

Jul 25, 2014

Alice Bernita Zahniser of Chambersburg, Penns.ylvania, died July 8, 2014, age 96. Alice was born in Trucksville, Pennsylvania, in 1918, the youngest child of Rev. Moses Hayden and Annie Esther Peverill. She survived her eight siblings, calling herself “the last leaf on the tree.” She lived for several years in Shepherdstown and then for 20 years at Menno Haven Retirement Community in Chambersburg.

In 1936, she married Howard C. Zahniser (19061964). The couple had four children: Alison Howard Mathias Zahniser and his wife Ann Harrington, Greenville, IL.; Esther B. Zahniser and her husband Duncan Gillies, London, England; Karen E. Zahniser and her husband Robert Bettacchi, of Lexington, Massachusetts.; and Edward D. Zahniser and his wife, Christine Hope Duewel, of Shepherdstown. Alice embraced her nine grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren.

A coloratura soprano, Alice Zahniser trained at Peabody Institute, Baltimore, MD, and the University of Maryland, College Park. She performed at many venues, including the Kennedy Center, Washington, DC; London, England; and the Pablo Casals Festival, Puerto Rico. She directed choirs at Riverdale (MD) Presbyterian Church and Shepherdstown (WV) Presbyterian Church and was the founding director of Menno Havens Menno Larks chorus.

Alice was the expert logistician behind her family’s many wilderness experiences that buttressed Howard’s wilderness preservation work. She was “the Mother Teresa of outdoor cooking over open wood fires.” Her journal, Ways to the Wilderness, recounts the 1956 saga of the family of six, car camping between five wilderness treksfrom Minnesota to Wyoming, Montana, and Washington. It was published in 2008 in honor of her 80th birthday.

A memorial service with special music was held at Menno Haven Chapel, 2075 Scotland Avenue in Chambersburg on Saturday, July 19, at 10 a..m., Chaplains Vernon Isner and Bob Keener officiating. Online condolences may be expressed at www.sellersfuneralhome.com. Alices ashes will be interred at Riverside Cemetery in Tionesta, PA, with a graveside service on Saturday, August 9, 2014 at 4 p.m.

She lived in Shepherdstown from the early 1980s until 1994, when she moved to Menno Haven Retirement Community in Chambersburg. In Shepherdstown, she was active with Good Shepherds Interfaith Caregivers and the Masterworks Chorale.