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1933 John 2023

John Stoner

January 22, 1933 — March 20, 2023

Family, Farmer, Friend

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John Richard Stoner, 90, went home to be with the Lord on March 20, 2o23. Formerly of Mercersburg, PA, John last resided with his wife at MennoHaven Chambers Pointe, 1425 Philadelphia Ave. #536, Chambersburg, PA 17201..

Born January 22, 1933 in Mercersburg, PA, John was a son to the late John Wilbur (J.W.) and Carrie A. Rosenberry Stoner. He graduated from Lemasters High School in 1951. He furthered his studies with a B.S. in biology from Gettysburg College graduating in 1955. During his college years, John was enrolled in ROTC and was a Phi Delta Theta Fraternity brother, elected President his senior year. After college, John served in the U.S. Army from 1955-1957 as a 1st Lt. Radar Officer - Nike I Guided Missile in Fort Bliss, TX and Fort Sheridan, IL. Followed by six years in the Army Reserves. After the army, John settled in Bedford, PA for a year selling feed at Wayne Feed Company.

A quote from John, “What’s born in the blood is hard to beat out of the bone. Farming is in my blood.” John returned to the family farm (of the original 238 acres, 100 acres were in potatoes but in the 1930’s it was lost due to low potato prices). After renting farms, his parents regained the farm in 1946, which is the present day farmland nestled on Oellig, Firestone and Renninger roads, as well as land on Stitzel and Warm Springs Roads.

In 1960, an 8 cows/side herringbone milking parlor was built later updated to a double-eight which at the time was state of the art. In 1969, John as the eldest brother at 36, with his mother and five brothers formed a dairy farm corporation, Stoner’s Hijos Hill, Inc. in Mercersburg. They were the first corporation to receive the Master Farmer award in 1975 from State Extension and PA Farm Journal Magazine. Other awards include Grassland Farmer of the Year (1974) and Outstanding Young Farmer over 30 (1987). The family farm was honored for their 50-year membership in the Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative. The Franklin County Chamber of Commerce recognized John as the Ag Businessman of the Year, November 2001. Then Stoner’s Hijos Hill received the Business of the Year award from the Mercersburg Area Chamber of Commerce in 2006, receiving the FCADC Small Business of the Year award that same year. The Franklin Fall Farm Fun Fest was held at Stoner’s Hijos Hill, Inc September 2000 with a crowd of over 3,000, including weekday visits of over 1,600 4th grade students in Franklin County schools. The farm has tripled in size with the number of dairy cows and acreage. Stoner’s Hijos Hill Inc. was passed on to the next generation of Stoner’s (John’s sons and their cousins) in 2000.

John was very involved in the Pennsylvania Farmers Association (PFA) at the local level; he had been president, membership chairman, chairman of the National Legislative Committee, and a member of the Political Education Program. At the state level, he has served on the Dairy committee and chaired the Farmer Political Action Committee. He has served on the Cooperative Extension board and Farmers Home Administration.

Although John’s occupation was a dairy farmer, he was a dedicated community man. At the age of 35 in November 1968, John ran for the office of the PA House of Representatives in the 90th district. Though he lost that race to an incumbent, that didn’t stop him from being involved in the Republican party throughout his life; attending events, placing signs, passing petitions, and sharing his candidate endorsements with others. For years he was in charge of making the chicken corn soup for the Franklin County republican committee’s yearly picnic. Most recently being active with the Reagan Coalition and Ben Franklin Society and attending Lincoln Day dinner.

John was a leader for the Western 4-H dairy club for 24 years after having his first Brown Swiss cow in 1948. He was quoted as saying about that cow, “It looked like a camel and milked like a flea.” Prior to showing dairy cows he was involved in the pig club for a few years. The 4-H clubs were instrumental in bringing the first dairy round-up to the Franklin County Fair in the late 1950’s.

John saw it as an honor to serve his community. In the Mercersburg area, John served on the Tuscarora School District Board member for 18 years, 4 years as President, and served on the Franklin Co. Vo-tech School board for 14 years. He was on the board of directors for Tuscarora Education Foundation (TEF) which supplemented educational initiatives in the Tuscarora School District by focusing efforts on the grassroots level. He served on the Bear Valley Water Authority board for 41 years, involved in the Franklin Co. Extension office for 6 years, and FHA for 9 years.

John retired from the Board of Directors of the First National Bank of Mercersburg in 2008 after 18 years of service, as well as 12 years of service on the Board of Directors of Mercersburg Financial Corporation (currently Orrstown Bank). John and his wife Beth, traveled throughout the U.S. for bank conventions on the state and national level. John was a member of the St. Stephens Lutheran Church of Upton, where he served on council for many years. Additionally, he served the Letterkenny Reuse Committee for 4 years.

John was appointed by the Franklin County Commissioners to the Franklin County Industrial Development Authority as a representative from Mercersburg. During the Farm City Week exchange program, John experienced a day in the life of Ted Rabold, then superintendent of Tuscarora School District and Ted was a farmer for a day. For much of his life, John was also a member of the Masonic Lodge - Mount Pisgah #443 and National Sojourners.

John was instrumental in improving the community’s agricultural and conservation efforts. He served as co-chair of the $2.5 million Agricultural Learning and Environmental Center capital campaign which now houses, Franklin County Cooperative Extension Office, Franklin County Conservation District, National Resource Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency and Farm Bureau.

During the revitalization of athletic facilities at James Buchanan High School, John was an active board member for the $1.14 million Fix JB Sports capital campaign. His commitment continued with the naming of the scoreboard at the football field and track for John and Beth Stoner.

John attended the Lemasters Alumni Association’s yearly events (with too few members, it has dissolved) and served as past president. During the Lemasters Centennial in July of 1972 - the Brothers of the Brush competed in a beard contest -John started growing his beard in March and took the first place prize as General Grant, outfitted in a Yankee uniform, complete with plume hat and sword.

John looked forward to family gatherings with a packed house or an outdoor picnic, but he always jumped in with a heartfelt blessing before the meal. He enjoyed the annual summer vacation to Beth’s family cottage “Hackensack” on Lake Huron in Grand Bend, Ontario, Canada. It was there that his family shared many good memories and enjoyed time away from the farm. He was an avid supporter of his children and grandchildren, whether an athletic competition or artistic event John and Beth were eager to attend. He shared special bonds with his grandchildren, often the first to put them in an open mowed field to learn to drive.

Along with his love of family, he was a faithful man and loved the Lord. An active member of St. Stephens Lutheran Church in Upton, PA since the 1970’s and most recently attended chapel services at MennoHaven. For many years, he was asked to give the invocation at banquets. He was often heard singing along with hymns on the screen in the dining hall or sharing with sing-a-longs. He especially loved Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art, and the Battle Hymn Republic.

He is survived by his loving wife, Elizabeth (Beth) Meyer Stoner whom he met at Gettysburg College and married June 14, 1958 in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. His family was by far his greatest joy: five children, Julie (Don, Jr.) Eshleman, Kathy (the late Tony) Hamilton, Laurie (Jeff) Rice, of Chambersburg, PA, J. Alan Stoner, Mark (Heidi Treml) Stoner of Mercersburg, PA; twelve grandchildren, Andy Eshleman and Sara Eshleman; Leslie Hamilton, Michael Hamilton (Kaethe Gilman), Jen (Erick) Hamilton Padilla, Kelly Hamilton (James Spiess); Shayna (Brian) McIntire, Megan Sempowski, Jessica (Jacob) Sempowksi; John Stoner, Elizabeth Stoner, Charlotte Stoner; three great-grandchildren, Luke Sempowski, Maximo Padilla, and Raelyn McIntire, with twin Padilla boys due in June. Also surviving are John’s siblings Patricia (the late E. Larry) Dent and William A. (Shirley) Stoner of Chambersburg, Herbert L. (Peggy)Stoner of St. Thomas, and David D. (Patty) Stoner of Mercersburg. Dear friends Rick and Deb Scarcella, AFS daughter Katrien Couveur of Belgium. Much gratitude goes out to the wonderful staff at Menno Haven who loved and cared for John. He was preceded in death by three brothers, Jay W. (Nancy)Stoner, R. Gene (Nell) Stoner and Robert H. (Sue) Stoner.

A visitation will be held Friday, March 24 from 5- 8 p.m. at Thomas L. Geisel Funeral Home, 333 Falling Spring, Chambersburg, PA. John was a man of many hats to show your love - wear a favorite fun hat to the visitation. A memorial service for immediate family and close friends will be held on Saturday, March 25 at noon at the MennoHaven Chambers Pointe Chapel, followed by a time of reflection and sharing. Interment will be at a later time by the family.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Tuscarora Educational Foundation at JBHS, 4773 Fort Loudon Road, Mercersburg, PA 17236; Fix JB Sports Athletic Facilities Fund at 4773 Fort Loudon Road, Mercersburg, PA 17236; TWEP Tuscarora Wildlife Education Project 4881 Fort Loudon Road, Mercersburg, PA 17236.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John Stoner, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, March 24, 2023

5:00 - 8:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Saturday, March 25, 2023

Starts at 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

Menno Haven Chambers Pointe Chapel

1425 Philadelphia Avenue, Chambersburg, PA 17201

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