John Wesley Early, 87, of Palmyra, formerly a long-time resident of Hummelstown, passed away on February 27, 2016 in the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. He was born on August 29, 1928 in Hummelstown to the late Miles and Alma Early. He was a 1946 graduate of Hummelstown High School and graduated from Penn State University with a B.S. in Horticulture, M.S. in Agricultural Economics and pursued additional studies toward a PhD in Rural Sociology. His knowledge of the flower industry took him into many facets of the business. He served as President and Secretary of the PA Retail Florists Association, was a founding member of the Central PA Chapter of the American Marketing Association, and Treasurer and Newsletter Editor for the PA Nurserymen’s Association. He enjoyed speaking about the flower industry and entertained with flower arranging classes before civic clubs, flower-garden clubs, industry meetings and educational workshops. One message he enjoyed delivering the most was entitled “God’s Precious Gift of Flowers” relating Biblical messages to the use of flowers in life and to call upon people to be good caretakers of God’s gift of flowers.
In 1973, John opened Early’s Flower Box in Hummelstown. He continued to design floral arrangements for Royer’s Flowers after selling his business to Royer’s in 1994. Even in his retirement in the senior community, Lebanon Valley Brethren Home, where John and Nancy resided, he arranged and displayed his floral designs throughout the community for all to enjoy. Prior to opening Early’s Flower Box, John was Manager of the Florida Flower Association and Director of the PA Health Research Institute. During a 10-year career with the PA Department of Agriculture, he founded and served as Chief of Market Development, Director of Research, Evaluation and Planning and was appointed Director of Rural Affairs.
John was a 50-year member of Trinity United Methodist Church, Hummelstown where he served as lay leader, adult education superintendent, teacher, choir member, and member of the Administrative Board. He was appointed as a member of the Board of Directors of the Central PA Homes for the Aging which provided governance for Bethany Village in Mechanicsburg and Epworth Home in Tyrone. During his residency in Florida he was ordained an Elder in the Presbyterian Church and continued in this capacity at the Derry Presbyterian Church in Hershey.
John’s servant leadership and love for community led him to serve on the Hummelstown Borough Council, as president of the Parent Teacher Association, and as a president during his 40+ years in the Hummelstown Lions Club. As a Lion Club member, he initiated the Hummelstown Honor Citizen program, was elected Lion of the Year, and named a Melvin Jones Fellow. As a Korean War Veteran, he received the U.S. Army’s Commendation Ribbon for meritorious service.
Throughout his full and active life, John was first and foremost a loving, caring husband, father, and friend. He is survived by his wife Nancy Spire Early of 58 years, a daughter, Susan Noriega and husband Steve of Palmyra, sons, David of Hummelstown, Matthew and wife, Bernadette Taylor of Lancaster, and daughter, Elizabeth Ford of Leola, and six grandchildren – Steve and John Noriega, Luke and Madeline Early, and Griffin and Kathryn Ford, his twin sister Naomi Early and brother Robert Early. John was preceded in death by his parents, sister Josephine Smith, brother Miles Early, Jr. and son-in-law
C. Scott Ford.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held for John on Friday, April 1, 2016, at 4 PM in Trinity United Methodist Church, 210 West Main Street, Hummelstown, with The Rev. Jason C. Mackey, his pastor, officiating. Following the service friends and relatives will be received at a reception in the church's Fellowship Hall. Trefz & Bowser Funeral Home, Inc., 114 West Main Street, Hummelstown, is handling the arrangements. Those desiring may send memorial contributions to Trinity United Methodist Church, 210 West Main Street, Hummelstown, PA 71036. Online condolences may be shared at www.trefzandbowser.com.