Alma K. Espenshade, 103, E-town Area School District teacher, major donor to charitable causes

By on May 3, 2017

Alma Kathleen (Hartman) Espenshade, 103, formerly of Elizabethtown, passed away peacefully on April 25, 2017, at the Brethren Village Retirement Community.

Born Dec. 12, 1913, in Rockingham County, Va., she was the daughter of the late Rev. Walter W. and Elsie (Wampler) Hartman. She married Eby Charles Espenshade in June 1939.

Her family moved to Lebanon County in 1919, and in 1932, she graduated from Annville High School. She graduated from Elizabethtown College in 1937 and received a master’s degree from Temple University in 1961. She also took additional graduate courses at Syracuse, Marquette, and Millersville universities.

She was a schoolteacher and elementary school principal in Lancaster, Lebanon, and Dauphin counties for more than 32 years, and in 1976, she retired from the Elizabethtown Area School District.

Alma was a longtime member of the Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren, where she served on local, district and national committees of the Church of the Brethren. As part of the church’s national emergency relief team, she traveled to disaster sites across the country to provide child care. Following her retirement, she joined Brethren Volunteer Service and supplied social services to young people on an American Indian reservation in Colorado.

She was also a member of the Elizabethtown Business and Professional Women’s Club and was named its Woman of the Year in 1982. Alma also was a member of the National Education Association and the Pennsylvania and Lancaster County Retired Teachers associations. She served as secretary for the local association, and won the 2002 Lancaster Senior Spelling Bee. She volunteered with numerous organizations, including Meals on Wheels, and continued volunteer work at Brethren Village into her 100s. Alma was an avid traveler. She visited every state in the United States and every continent except Antarctica.

She lived frugally and gave generously from her means. She was a major donor to charitable causes, including organizations focused on relief work, youth, education, housing and the environment.

Alma had the courage of her convictions. She spoke her mind and was strong and resilient. Whether it was challenging school authorities on how teachers were paid, or demonstrating locally and publicly against the U.S. war in Vietnam, she held firmly to her sense of right and wrong and openly expressed her points of view. When her husband died in August 1958, she determinedly raised three children ages 11 to 15 as a single parent.

She will be lovingly missed by two sons: Dr. Thomas J. Espenshade, husband of Pamela Hotine Espenshade, of Princeton, N.J.; and John P. Espenshade, husband of Gabriela Mund Espenshade, of Littleton, N.C. Also surviving are five grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband; a daughter: Rebecca J. Kenderdine; and siblings: Galen, Jodie, Rayburn, Russell and Stanley Hartman; and Omega Hartman Sandy.

Private services will be at the convenience of the family and private interment will be in Mount Tunnel Cemetery in Elizabethtown. A public memorial service will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Alma’s memory to the Eby Espenshade Scholarship at Elizabethtown College, 1 Alpha Drive, Elizabethtown, PA 17022.

Arrangements have been entrusted with Miller-Finkenbinder Funeral Home and Crematory, Elizabethtown. Condolences and memories may be shared at

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