Merle A. (Hughes) Whitebread

Merle Ann (Hughes) Whitebread, 86, of Masonic Village in Elizabethtown, PA went to be with the Lord and her beloved husband on July 9, 2024, surrounded by her loving family and her best buddy on Lafayette East Evelyn Conner.

            Born in her grandmother’s house in Kingston, PA on May 30, 1938, she was the daughter of the late Thomas and Blodwen (Jones) Hughes. She was a 1956 graduate of West Hazleton High School where she was known to everyone as Annie.  She went on to marry the love of her life, the late Elwood M. Whitebread, and lived in Berwick, PA for 44 years where they raised their 3 daughters. She moved to Masonic Villages in 2014 with her fellow Berwick “troublemaker” Jeanette Nevius and they were good friends until Jeanette’s death in 2020. 

            Merle Ann was always up for an adventure. She had the best memories of her happy childhood growing up with all her extended family in the Northeast PA coal region.  At the age of 18 she moved to Philadelphia with her best friend since kindergarten Carol, where they worked as Bell Telephone operators. She would tell stories of the fun, and trouble, the two of them often got into while living and working in Philadelphia. That all came to an end when she met “her Elwood”. They were married on June 6, 1959.

            Merle was a homemaker and worked hard to help support her family. She worked at the Coblentz Store on Front Street in Berwick and went on to work in sales for the Lady Esther Outlet in Berwick, until her retirement. She was a member of Bower Memorial United Methodist Church where she was a Sunday-school teacher and sang in the choir, belonged to the St David’s Society for Welsh Ancestry, was active in the Berwick Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star and was a past Worthy Matron and Grand Page, and the Berwick Red Hat Society.  She loved traveling with her late husband, was an accomplished artist, was well known for her unique laugh and ability to bring light to any party, loved her close Dachshund companions Duchess and Barbie, and most especially loved time with her grandchildren.

            She was preceded in death, in addition to her parents, by her husband Elwood, who passed away March 23, 2007; a sister June Harakas; a brother William Hughes; a son-in-law Lawrence Lahr; and her best friend, and partner in crime, Carol “Rootbeer” Wills.

            Surviving are her three daughters: Deborah Lahr (Berwick, PA); Karin Shipe and her husband Chris (Harrisburg, PA); and Nancy Dillow and her husband Scott (Columbia, PA). She was also the proud Nanie to six grandchildren: Christopher Lahr, Megan Lahr and her partner Terry Dawson, Rebecca (Shipe) Lewis and her husband Matt, Madeline (Shipe) Klinger and her husband Blaine, Benjamin Dillow, and Evan Dillow. She was a proud great grandmother to Lillian Lahr and Jacob Dawson. She is also survived by several nieces and nephews but three are especially near and dear to her: Craig Whitebread and his wife Sandy (Sugarloaf, PA); Glenda Prideaux (Easton, PA); and Annette Hall (St. Petersburg, FL).

            The family invites anyone who knew her to attend her service and help us remember her incredible life. The service will be at Heller Funeral Home LLC, 633 East Third Street Nescopeck PA. Visitation with family will be held on Sunday July 14th from 5-7pm. The funeral will be on Monday July 15th at 11:00 am with visitation with the family from 10-11am. Grave side service will follow at Pine Grove Cemetery Walnut Street Berwick, PA.

            In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Masonic Villages Fraternal Fund at and designate the donation to go to the Masonic Tree of Life Fund or contributions can be made to the American Heart Association at  in her memory.

            The family especially wants to thank the team of caregivers on Lafayette East at Masonic Villages of Elizabethtown and the Masonic Village Hospice. The care and love that was shown to our mother meant more than we could ever express. She loved every one of you!

Online messages of comfort may be sent to her family at