She baked the best gingerbread boy cookies, the kind that are big and soft and sprinkled with lots of sugar crystals and a red candy heart. She made them for every winter holiday and all her nieces and nephews looked forward to Thanksgiving feasts at Aunt Dorothy’s house because everyone got gingerbread boys to take home.
Dorothy’s parents, Benjamin Harrison Castle and Lillian Virginia (McNeil) Castle, grew up in Boone, NC, but moved to Dilliner in Greene County, southern Pennsylvania, in the late-1920s to find work in the coal mines there. Dorothy was born in Dilliner, PA on June 25, 1929. She was the youngest of four; one brother and two sisters.
In April of 1930 the family moved to the farm on Williams Hollow Road, at the foot of South Mountain just outside East Canton. While her Dad continued to work at the coal mine in Dilliner, her mother, her big brother Charles E. Castle and older sisters, Alma and Jean, worked on the farm, building a herd of Guernsey cows, planting a big garden and their own fruit orchard. At the age of 4 Dorothy started first grade at the one room East Canton grade school where her teacher, Rosie Golden, gave her a love of poetry and taught the students beautiful cursive handwriting along with the basic subjects. Dorothy graduated from Canton High School in 1946. Right out of high school, Dorothy became the secretary at Rockwell’s Mill.
She took over that job from her sister, Jean, when Jean married Jack Huffman, Jr. While at Rockwell’s she made many friends among the mill workers and met the farmers from the surrounding farms as they came in to get their grain orders. One of those young farmers was Gordon Schanbacher from East Point. But it wasn’t until a spur of the moment invitation to go square dancing on a double date with Joey Bedford and Frank Herman that Gordon and Dorothy started dating. They were married on July 29, 1948.
For the first year of their marriage they lived in an apartment in Canton before moving to the family farm in East Point. Two children joined the family, Linda in 1950 and Roy in 1953. Dorothy continued working at Rockwell’s after Linda was born, but before Roy was born she became a full time homemaker with all the demands of life on a dairy farm. She still found time to get involved in the East Point community. She taught Bible School and the children’s Sunday School classes at East Point United Methodist church for many years.
She especially loved the Christmas and Easter programs when she could get the kids on stage for a play. Shy kids turned into confident actors under her encouragement. Over the years Dorothy and Gordon enjoyed vacations at the New Jersey shore, trips to North Carolina, a tour of the western states, bowling in summer leagues, and swimming in the Big Shrader creek near Powell on Sunday afternoons. T
hey had planned to find a place in Florida to escape some of the winter months, but after only 33 years of marriage, Gordon suffered a massive heart attack and passed away on February 6th 1982. Dorothy picked up the pieces of her life, installed a swimming pool at home, became the day care center for her grandchildren, Carly age 2 and baby, Nathan, and continued to help her son, Roy, on the dairy farm. She also used her talents to join the casts of several local plays. In 1986 the Liberty community was inspired by Pastor Jack Palmer and Pastor Clyde DeShong to present a passion play titled “The King of Nazareth”.
More than 100 Liberty community members participated with the original script by Pastor Jack, original music by Diane Bastian, and handmade costumes and sets. Dorothy played Mary, Mother of Jesus. That experience inspired her to research, write and then perform stories from the viewpoint of several women of the Bible, including Queen Esther, The Woman at the Well, Mary, Mother of Jesus, and historical figure, Susanna Wesley. She made her own costumes and told their stories in character. Along with her sister in law, Norma Jane Moyer, as her chauffeur, she traveled to churches all over the area presenting the portrayals, going as far as Hummelstown, near Hershey and Altoona. As if that was not enough, she also was a prolific poet and a columnist for the church newsletter, writing from the viewpoint of a little church mouse named Annony Mouse.
Her stories of Annony Mouse, Granny Mouse and Great Uncle Murphy have entertained the Liberty area United Methodist churches since 1989. Of course each month’s newsletter would not have been complete without illustrations, so she drew the Mouse Family in all kinds of situations from Christmas celebrations, to sunflower gardening, to snowball fights. For a time she and Wilmer Wilcox, a friend from her days at Rockwell’s Mill, exchanged poems in the Canton newspaper. She loved to tell a good story and wrote and illustrated many entertaining stories for her grandchildren and her church family.
She loved watching her grandchildren and great grandchildren grow up. In 2007 granddaughter, Carly, and her husband, Jared Frank, presented her with great grandson, Quentin, and in 2009, great granddaughter, Lydia joined the family. In March 2018 grandson, Nathan, and his wife, Allison (Senchur) Schanbacher, brought even more joy to her life when great granddaughter, Tessa Mae arrived. Dorothy also loved her cats, Lizzie and Minnie Pearl, Cubby and Hidey, but her grandchildren were definitely the light of her life.
Dorothy was slowed down a bit by a couple of heart attacks, one at age 66 and another at age 72, but they didn’t keep her down for long. She loved to work in her flower gardens and enjoyed the sitting on the front porch with her friends and neighbors and family. Besides the gingerbread boy cookies, she was famous for her homemade banana ice cream and her chocolate raspberry moose tracks ice cream that was served at the East Point Ice cream social each August. She helped make Easter Eggs each year at the church and stayed active in church right up until the covid quarantine situation kept her home. She spent this past summer on her big front porch with her favorite cat, Lizzie, on her lap watching her flower garden bloom, the humming birds and butterflies visit, and the traffic passing by. She celebrated her 91st birthday in June. Over the past year congestive heart failure gradually drained her energy. When it got too cold to be outside, she spent her days reading through all her journals, letters, and church newsletters, making sure that they were sorted and preserved in the right order. She always worried that she hadn’t done enough to help her community and her family, so right up until her last weeks of life she was thinking of things she could do to brighten someone’s day. She had outlived most of her friends and all of her siblings, and just couldn’t wait to join them all in heaven. She passed away in her own home surrounded by her son, Roy, daughter in law, Kay, and daughter, Linda Keim (Stan) of Jerseytown, PA.
Dorothy was predeceased by her husband of 33 years, Gordon A. Schanbacher, parents, Benjamin and Virginia Castle, brother and sister in law, Charles E. and Marrian (Cole) Castle, sister and brother in law, Alma and Albert Duda, sister, Jean Huffman, and sister in law, Norma Jane (Schanbacher) Moyer. She is survived by brothers in law, Jack Huffman, Jr and Cecil R. Moyer, children Roy A and Kay (Huffman) Schanbacher of East Point, Linda and Stan Keim of Jerseytown, PA, and 2 grandchildren, Carly (Jared) Frank of Watsontown, and Nathan (Allison) Schanbacher of East Point and 3 great grandchildren, Quentin, Lydia, and Tessa. She loved her many nieces and nephews very dearly and all her wonderful East Point neighbors and friends.
She will be remembered in a family service at Pepper Funeral Home, 578 Springbrook Drive, Canton, PA 17724 on Thursday, February 25th at 2 pm with a visitation for family from 1-2. Pastor Tom Harmic will conduct the service. Masks and social distancing will be requested while attending. Due to covid concerns and the cold winter weather, burial will be at the family’s convenience when the snow is a distant memory, the sun is shining, and the flowers are blooming. In lieu of flowers Dorothy would have wanted gifts to go to the East Point United Methodist Memorial Fund, PO Box 4, Liberty, PA 16930 or to the Tioga County Cat Project at www.tiogacountycatproject.com or PO Box 160, Elkland, PA 16920.
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