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Chester County Press

Obituaries for the week of July 16

07/16/2018 11:25AM ● By J. Chambless


Richard G. Forte, 72, passed away on July 11 at the Lankenau Hospital.

He was the husband of Terry Forte of Kennett Square. Born in 1946 in Coatesville, he was the son of the late Gene Forte and the late Anne DeFroscia. Rich graduated from Bishop Shanahan High School in West Chester. There he excelled in football and baseball, where he earned “All Catholic” and “All Chester County” for several years. During the Vietnam era he served at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital as a medic. Over the last 40 years, his passion was working in the mushroom industry. He first learned to grow mushrooms with his brother-in-law, Pete Alonzo. In 1993, he joined the L.F. Lambert Spawn Company, and until now was the vice president of sales. In 1996, he had the opportunity to teach his son, Richie, how to grow mushrooms, and together with close family friends they built their business.

Rich and his wife, Terry, represented the mushroom industry by giving back to the community and volunteering for various events and charities, especially for the Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square. He had a passion for golf, Philadelphia sports teams, and watching all of his grandkids' activities. His greatest passion of all was his wife,and they just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his daughter Chrissy Wolfe and husband Michael of Kennett Square; and son Richie Forte and wife Jenna of Avondale; seven grandchildren; and his brother, Dr. Glenn Forte. He was predeceased by two sisters, Patricia Gallagher and Carol Forte.

A service was held July 17. In lieu of flowers, donations in Rich Forte’s name can be made to The Mushroom Festival, which benefits local charities, at P.O. Box 1000, Kennett Square, PA 19348. To view his online tribute and to share a memory with his family, visit


Norman Eugene Astle, Sr., 92, passed away peacefully, surrounded by his loving family, on July 6 at Christiana Hospital. He was under hospice care.

Norman was born in 1926 in Kemblesville, to the late Arthur A. Astle and late Eleanor J. Grubb. His wife, Helen L. Astle, died in 2015. The two shared 64 wonderful years together. Norman was a member of Hopewell United Methodist Church, where he served as trustee for many years, and in other capacities. He was a dairy and grain farmer most of his life. Norman also enjoyed serving with the Cecil County Farm Museum, and was a member of the Cecil County Farm Bureau. He served as Institutional Representative for Hopewell Boy Scout Troop No. 143. Norman enjoyed spending time with his family and grandchildren.

He will be missed by his six children, Eleanor DeLong (Kenneth), Alma DeLong (Gerald), Norman Astle, Jr. (Stephanie), H. Louise Batory (Robert), Richard Astle, Brenda Waddell (Randy); grandchildren; great-grandchildren; nieces, nephews, beloved friends, and his beloved buddy, Boots. In addition to his parents, Norman was preceded in death by his brother, Otis A. Astle; and sister, Mary J. Witmer.

Memorial contributions may be made to either Hopewell United Methodist Church or the Cecil County Farm Museum in care of Lee A. Patterson & Son Funeral Home, P.A., P.O. Box 766, Perryville, MD 21903-0766. Interment was in Oxford Cemetery. Visit


William “Don” D. Pierce, Jr., 65, of Kennett Square, passed away on July 7 at Neighborhood Hospice in West Chester.

Born in West Grove, he was the son of the late William D. Pierce, Sr., and the late Janet Burket Pierce.

He was an electrical engineer at Shah & Associates in Gaithersburg, Md. Don was a graduate of West Chester University, and served his country as a member of the U.S. Air Force and the Air Force Reserve. He enjoyed working, fishing, classic cars, golfing, his dogs, and being with his family and friends. He was the soundman for the Rio Bravo Band.

Don is survived by his partner of 22 years, Sharon Nordstrom of Kennett Square; two sons, William “Donnie” Pierce, III, and his wife Stephanie of Fuquay Varina, N.C., and Andrew Pierce and his fiancee Taylor Del Rossi of Blackwood, N.J.; one daughter, Heather Pierce of Oxford; and one sister, Susan Farmer of West Palm Beach, Fla. He was predeceased by one brother, David Pierce.

A visitation will be held at a remembrance gathering at the Hilton Garden Inn Kennett Square/Longwood (815 East Baltimore Pike, Kennett Square) on July 22 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The family requests that flowers not be sent. Instead, make a contribution in his memory to a charity of your choice. To view his online tribute and to share a memory with his family, visit


Daniel Kevin Hilferty, 40, of West Grove, passed away on June 26.

He was the son of Debora J. Frank of West Grove, and the late John Hilferty. He graduated from Avon Grove High School in 1996 and the Chester County Vocational Technical School. He was a mechanic by trade and passion, and there wasn't a car or truck that he could not fix. Growing up in Eddystone, his passion was basketball. In 1990, his team made the State Championships with Eddystone Biddy. At age 11, he moved to West Grove and played basketball and was always working on cars.

He is survived by his mother Debbie (Steve Young); sister Samantha (Chris Wood); brother John Hilferty, II; grandmother Elizabeth Frank; aunt Linda (Rick Funk); and three nephews, Steve Miller, John III and Jason Hilferty. He was predeceased by his father, John Hilferty; maternal grandfather, Albert Frank; uncle Al Frank; and paternal grandparents James and Mae Hilferty.

A visitation will be held from 1 to 2 p.m. July 21 at the Kuzo & Grieco Funeral Home (250 W. State St., Kennett Square). His memorial service will follow at 2:30 p.m. Burial will be private. To view his online tribute and to share a memory with his family, visit


Helen Cecilia Maraldo, 96, of Avondale, passed away on July 9 at Seasons Hospice at Christiana Hospital.

She was the wife of Ernest Maraldo, who passed away in 2011, and with whom she shared 64 years of marriage. Born in Wilmington, Del., she was the daughter of the late Nazareno Antonini and the late Giovanina DeSantis Antonini. She was an insurance broker for State Farm Insurance for over 30 years, retiring in 2000. Incredibly talented, kind and compassionate, she had a zest for life. She was a fabulous cook, she loved gardening – her rose garden was her pride and joy – and her daughters, Pam and Donna, were the apple of her eye. She loved to dance and often people left the dance floor to watch while she and her husband, Ernest, whirled around in a waltz or a polka. She loved her years at State Farm, and volunteering at the Kennett Senior Center. She loved to entertain and had a wide circle of friends.

One of ten children, she is survived by her brother Rudy; her children, Pam and Donna, and Donna's husband, Lou Scarborough.

A funeral was held July 13. Burial was in St, Patrick’s Cemetery in Kennett Square. In memory of Helen, you can send flowers, or the family welcomes contributions to the Brackenville Center, 100 Saint Claire Drive, Hockessin, DE 19707. To view her online tribute and to share a memory with her family, visit


Michael C. Massey, Sr., 66, of West Chester, passed away on July 11 at the Pocopson Home.

Born in West Chester, he was the son of the late Hugh Massey, Jr., and the late Giovanna D’Andrea Roberts. Michael was a member of the Kennett Fire Company and the West Whiteland Fire Company.

He was an avid reader, and he enjoyed working on the computer, and being with his family and friends.

Michael is survived by two sons, Michael C. Massey, Jr., and Kevin J. Massey; three grandchildren; three brothers, H. Ross Massey, Benjamin J. Massey, and Thomas E. Roberts; and one sister, Giovanna M. Wiggins. He was predeceased by one sister, Sandra L. Carbo.

His service and burial will be private. To view his online tribute and to share a memory with his family, visit


Barbara Elinor Knipe of West Grove passed away on July 4 at Seasons Hospice at Christiana Hospital.

She was the beloved wife of the late Harvey Knipe, who she cared for until his passing in 2007, and the daughter of William and Lena Krumm. She was born in 1929 in Hazelton and spent her early years there before moving to Philadelphia. She graduated from Bartram High School. She worked as a comptometer operator at Belmont Steel and Ryerson Steel, where she met Harvey. They married and moved to Lansdale, where she worked at Perkins Glue and started her long years of volunteer service. She volunteered with Meals on Wheels, and then volunteered at North Penn Hospital. Enjoying her time there, she volunteered at Jennersville Hospital after moving to Kennett. There, she met Neil Leech, who was her dear companion until his passing in 2016. While she was married to Harvey, they traveled the world. She always wanted to see China, which she and Harvey visited in 2006, their last trip together. She enjoyed baking, especially green apple pies, which she shared with her neighbors and friends, who she adored. In recent years, she was an active member of the West Grove Presbyterian Church and Avon Grove Seniors.
Surviving are her daughters, Wendy Bonanni (Victor) of Lansdale, and Cynthia Croft of Portland, Ore.; son Harvey Knipe, Jr. (Kim) of West Chester; and five grandchildren. She is also survived by her brother-in-law, Kenneth Knipe (Dori) of California. She was predeceased by her sisters, Phyllis Bailey (Gene), Janet Oberman (Tom) and Betty Oakley (Landon).

A memorial service was held on July 14 at West Grove Presbyterian Church in West Grove. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the West Grove Presbyterian Church.


Betty Gears, 92, of West Grove, passed away on July 14 after a short illness.

She is survived by her children, James Prettyman, Jr. (Beth) of Oxford, Robert Prettyman, Sr. (Bruce) of Quarryville, and Mary Stafford of Concord, N.C. She is also survived by six grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; as well as her sister, Harriet Wildermuth of Florida and Henry Wagner (Linda) of Delaware. She was preceded in death by her husband, Judson Gears; her granddaughter, Becky Prettyman; and two sisters, Jeanette Robinson and June Dean.

Betty was a very caring mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, and friend with a heart of gold. She was the kindest person you would ever meet. She loved to share stories from long ago. She was born in Cecil County, Md., in 1925 to the late Henry B. Wagner and Mary Elizabeth Shaffer Wagner. She was a graduate of Newark High School in 1942, and was a very dedicated employee at Hercules Incorporated in Wilmington for 37 years, retiring as an executive secretary. Betty loved spending time with her family and friends, playing bingo, going to the slots, playing cards, country music, dancing, planting flowers and gardening.

A funeral will be held at the Ruffenach Family Funeral Home (224 Penn Ave., Oxford) on July 19 at 11 a.m. Family and friends may visit from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at the funeral home. Interment will follow at the Head of Christiana Cemetery in Newark, Del.