Cover photo for Wanda L. Berger's Obituary
Wanda L. Berger Profile Photo
1936 Wanda 2018

Wanda L. Berger

January 1, 1936 — February 16, 2018

Wanda L. Berger, 82, Harrisburg, peacefully joined her Father in Heaven on Friday, February 16, 2018 at Homeland Center.

Born on New Year’s Day in 1936, she was the only child of the late Warren and LaVerne (Fisher) Berger and was a 1953 graduate of William Penn High School, Harrisburg.

Following graduation, Wanda briefly attended Thompson Business College, and then surprised everyone by joining the Army.  During her stint with the WACs, she was clarinet soloist with the 14th Army Band and played the saxophone with the dance orchestra at Ft. McClellan, Alabama.

Her grandfather, Henry Fisher, was a well-known funeral director in Harrisburg at Fisher (then Neumyer) Funeral Home, and Wanda spent her adult life working her family funeral home as a “lady attendant” with her mother and her Aunt Bertha; all dressed in white nurses uniforms.  After the business was sold, they purchased the funeral homes in Tower City and Williamstown.  She eventually went to Mortuary School at Northampton County Area Community College and became a licensed funeral director in 1985.

Through all of this, she never lost her passion and love for her music.  She was talented on many instruments, but preferred her clarinet and sax.  She belonged to numerous marching, dance and concert bands and started giving private music lessons at the chapel in Tower City.  She and several of her band mates even formed bands of their own, The Dixie Dutchmen and the still active After Hours Big Band.  She also played for the Central Pennsylvania Symphony and the Keystone Concert Band, as well as filling in with other bands in the area.

After retiring from the funeral business, she bought the former Terrace Music in Pottsville and changed the name to Wanda’s Music World.  There she met and made friends with many wonderful musicians.  Owning her music store fulfilled a life-long dream, and gave her some of her happiest moments.

Following a serious surgery in 2011, Wanda moved back to the Harrisburg area.  When it was becoming apparent that she was suffering from Alzheimer’s, she lived in a series of facilities, Homeland Center being her home for the last several years.  Despite her illness, she was always known there for her smiles and her kisses.

Wanda belonged to several churches over the years; Christ United Methodist Church in Tower City, where she was choir director; Frieden’s Lutheran Church in Llewellyn where she was active in the music and children’s programs; and after moving back to Harrisburg, she attended Crosspoint United Methodist Church, where she played in the ensemble on  Sunday mornings.

She was a former member of Eastern Star and the Musician’s Union and had been an Arthur Murray Dance instructor.  She enjoyed music, dancing, doing cryptograms, and watching game shows.  Wanda loved all animals, and her kitties were her faithful companions for many years.  While living on the farm in Dillsburg, she and her Palomino horse, Duke, were quite a sight parading at Farmer’s Fair, both decked out in purple.  She was also an accomplished seamstress and enjoyed knitting and crocheting.  Many years were spent deep sea and bay fishing from her boat at her vacation home in Fenwick Island, DE and in Lewes, DE, and one of her proudest moments was catching a 6 foot mako shark which hung on her wall for years.

Surviving are her loving children:  Larry A. Riden (and his wife, Brenda), Hamburg, Lauri-Anne M. Kreiser (and her husband, Sonny), Harrisburg; Aleen L. Minnich (and her husband, Tracey), Williamstown; and Marianne E. Corl, Harrisburg; her longtime devoted companion: Dick Gehret, Lebanon;  her grandchildren:  Nathan  Minnich, Tara Smith, Gregory Riden (and his wife, Bobbi Jo), Brent Riden (and his wife, KellyAnne), Denielle Riden (and her fiancé, Erik Lewis), Mitchell Minnich (and his wife, Jennifer), Martin Strunk (and his wife, Amy), Kyle Strunk (and his wife, Dayna); her great grandchildren:  Dawson and Makenna Dunlop, Emma, Lexi, and Zoey Riden, Austin, Dustin, Lucas, and Shane Strunk, Brody and Kallie Strunk and Emma Minnich; aunts, uncles, cousins, and many wonderful friends and fellow musicians, all of whom will deeply miss her amazing and vibrant presence.

Her life will be celebrated 11:30 am Friday, February 23, 2018 at Crosspoint United Methodist Church, 430 Colonial Road, Harrisburg.  There will be a visitation Thursday, February 22, 2018 at Kimmel Funeral Home, 2001 Market Street, Harrisburg from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm and Friday at the church from 10:00 am until 11:00 am.

Burial with military honors will be held at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery following the service.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in her name to Homeland Center Endowment Fund, (specify Endowment Fund or Ellenberger Unit) 1901 N. 5th  Street, Harrisburg, 17102; Miffy’s Animal Rescue, 411 Sherman Street, Harrisburg, 17103 or Nobody’s Cats Foundation, 3909 Hartzdale Drive, Camp Hill, 17011.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Wanda L. Berger, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Friday, February 23, 2018

10:00 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Crosspoint United Methodist Church

430 Colonial Road, Harrisburg, PA 17109

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Memorial Service

Friday, February 23, 2018

Starts at 11:30 am (Eastern time)

Crosspoint United Methodist Church

430 Colonial Road, Harrisburg, PA 17109

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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