Skip to main content

Chester County Press

Obituaries for the week of May 10

05/10/2021 11:26PM ● By Steven Hoffman

Dennis C. Melton 

Dennis C. Melton, a well-known architect, musician, and community leader, died on May 5 as a result of a recent brain aneurysm. He was 73.

Dennis was born in Winchester, VA on June 2, 1947 to Howard and Marion Walton Melton.  

Inspired by The Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964, Dennis and his twin brother Dale formed a band called The Prodigals. They went on to play with the Watson Brothers and other bands in the U.S. and Canada. They then formed The Melton Brothers Band in 1977.  Dennis also formed a band called Crossroads with his son Michael, and the late singer-songwriter Billy Penn Burger.  

Dennis received his degree in architecture from Drexel University in 1987 and launched Melton Architects in 1993. He was the architect responsible for the design or reservation behind many iconic landmarks in Kennett Square, including the Anson Nixon Park Performance Pavilion, the Country Butcher, Philter Coffee, and the restoration of the historic Chalfonte House. At the time of his death, Dennis was the local architect of record for the Kennett Library.

Dennis loved being an active member of the Kennett Community. He served as president of the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce in 2006 and was a member of the Legislative Committee and the Route 1 Corridor Initiative. He served as the president of the Kennett Flash from its founding through 2019.  He founded and chaired the Summer Park Concert Series at Anson Nixon Park for its 14-year run. He also was a founding member of the MLK Breakfast Committee, serving on the program committee and singing in the choir for more than 14 years. Finally, Dennis, Joan Holiday, and Leon Spencer led the annual Holiday Caroling in Kennett.

Dennis is survived by his wife, Donna Hicks Melton, to whom he was happily married for 37 years; his son, Michael Melton; his brothers Dale Melton (Joan Bristol) and Howard Melton, Jr. (Susan); his niece, Charlotte Melton, and grandnephew, Mason Lee Melton.

A musical celebration of Dennis’s life will be held at a later date and will be announced on the obituary tribute page.  

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Dennis’s memory to The Kennett Flash 102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, PA 19348 or online at

Arrangements are being handled by Matthew Grieco of Grieco Funeral Home & Crematory, Inc. (1800-FUNERAL).  

Condolences are welcome at

M. Gertrude Schmidt

M. Gertrude Schmidt, a resident of West Grove who was formerly from Pittsburgh, passed away on May 2 at the Jennersville Regional Hospital. She was 94.

She was the wife of the late Raymond Martin Schmidt, with whom she shared 60 years of marriage.

Born in Pittsburgh, she was the daughter of the late Francis and Anne Smith.

She was a member of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in West Grove.

She is survived by her two sons, Douglas M. Schmidt (Christine) and Eric Schmidt (Emily); one daughter, Holly Lash and her companion, Roger L. Coney; five grandchildren, Matthew M. Schmidt (Darcy), Gretchen Reasner (William), Garrett Lash, Andrew Schmidt and Elliot Schmidt (Sara); and four great-grandchildren, Mae Reasner, Ben Reasner, Brodie Schmidt and Della Schmidt.

A memorial mass was celebrated on May 6 at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in West Grove.

Interment was in Oxford Cemetery.

Arrangements are being handled by the Edward L. Collins, Jr. Funeral Home, Inc. in Oxford. Online condolences may be made at

Gary Jay Mellinger

Gary Jay Mellinger, 74, of Oxford, passed away on May 1 at Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood.

Born in Harford County, Md., he was the son of the late Yvonne Mellinger Price.

Gary retired as a self-employed truck driver.

He enjoyed fishing and crabbing on the Chesapeake.

He is survived by his companion, Maxine Roland; three children, Mark A. Mellinger, Sr. (Melanie) of Peach Bottom, Tonja Wallace (Bill) of Oxford and Chastity Hardmon (Luis) of Drumore; four grandchildren, Billy, Kortney, Talynn and Brennan; and nine great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by a grandson, Mark A. Mellinger, Jr.

Services are private.

Arrangements are being handled by the Edward L. Collins, Jr. Funeral Home, Inc. in Oxford. Online condolences may be made at

Ryan Neil Peticca

Ryan Neil Peticca, 25, of Avondale, passed away May 6 at Jennersville Regional Hospital in West Grove.

Born in West Chester, he was the son of Anthony Neil Peticca of Boothwyn and Carmen Neredia Torres Diggs of Avondale.

Ryan enjoyed bowling, fishing and going to the movies with his friends.

He is survived by his parents; step-father, Chris Brown of Avondale; step-mother, Rebeccah Peticca of Boothwyn; maternal grandmother, Judith Pagan of West Grove; three sisters, Gabrielle Peticca (Gage Phillips) of Avondale, Lauren Peticca of Boothwyn and Aesha Russell of Avondale; one brother, Jamie Russell of Avondale; four aunts, Ana Rivera (Julio) of West Grove, Veronica Pagan (Anthony Garcia) of Oxford, Jessica Valentin (Kyle Bolden) of FL and Julie Strouth (Terri) of Exton; two nieces, Alissea Phillips and Alayna Twyman; and six cousins, Raenia, Tom, Arianna, Julianna, Taliah and Lucca.

He was preceded in death by his maternal grandfather, Daniel Torres; paternal grandparents, Anthony Peticca and Gerri Peticca; and one cousin, Alejandro Rivera.

Funeral services are private and the interment will be in Oxford Cemetery. 

Arrangements are being handled by the Edward L. Collins, Jr. Funeral Home, Inc. in Oxford. Online condolences may be made at

John A. Lattanzio

John A. Lattanzio passed away on May 7 at his residence in Avondale. He was 71.

Born in West Chester, he was the son of the late Robert Lattanzio, Sr. and the late Mary D’Annunzio Lattanzio.

John was a maintenance mechanic at W. L. Gore in Newark, Del., retiring in 2015 after 35 years of service.

He was a member of St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother Church in Avondale.

John enjoyed woodworking, landscaping, riding his motorcycle and being with his family and friends.

He is survived by one daughter, Theresa Zunino-McFalls of West Grove, one son, Stephen Lattanzio (and his wife Crystal) of Landenberg and seven grandchildren.

John was predeceased by two brothers, Robert Lattanzio, Jr. and William Lattanzio, and two sisters, Jean Zunino and Lucy DiUbaldo.

You are invite to visit with his family and friends from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May  12 at the Foulk Funeral Home, 200 Rose Hill Road, in West Grove. Please practice social distancing and please wear a face mask.

His burial will be held privately.

In lieu of flowers, a contribution may be made to the West Grove-Avondale Rotary Club, P.O. Box 280, West Grove, PA 19390.

To view his online tribute and to share a memory with his family, please visit


Bonnie Moxey Maxwell, a resident of Greenville, Del., passed away peacefully at Methodist Country House on May 5. She was 82.

She is survived by these members of her immediate family: a son, Thomas T. Hodges of Lancaster, Pa.; a daughter, Marcia M. Hodges of Falls Church, VA; stepdaughter Alison M. Kochie of Hockessin, Del.; and brother Todd G. Moxey of Penllyn, Pa.

Born on July 27, 1938 in Philadelphia, Bonnie was the daughter of the late Marcia Moxey and John Moxey, both Quakers and Swarthmore College graduates. Passion for knowledge was a family tradition: her parents thought the most valuable inheritance was the gift of a trained intellect and an inquiring mind.

To that end, Bonnie graduated from The Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr, Pa. in 1956. She earned 

a degree in government from Smith College in 1960 and, at age 67, an M.A. from the University of Delaware, where her thesis on Katharine Hepburn won the Raymond Callahan Prize for outstanding achievement in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program. In December of 2010, Bonnie finished the coursework requirements for a Ph.D. in American history, also at the University of Delaware.

Her career included service as an officer in U.S. Marine Corps (1960-1962), Viet-Nam training 

officer for the U.S. foreign aid agency (1967), sales training manager with Xerox (1975-1979), director of development and alumni affairs at Westtown Friends School (1979-1981), membership manager at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (1981-1992), and director of external affairs at Valley Forge Military Academy and College (1992-1994).  For the balance of the 1990s, she and her last husband, the late Howard Maxwell, former president of Girard College, formed a consulting firm, The Gateway Group, in Sussex County, Del.

Bonnie served on numerous non-profit boards since 1963: the Navy League of the United States, Philadelphia (Vice President, Marine Corps representative); the National Exhibits by Blind Artists organization; the Women Marines Association, Greater Philadelphia Chapter (President); the USS Pennsylvania commissioning committee; the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation 

(National and Philadelphia Ball Boards); the American Association of Museums Development and Membership Committee; the Junior League of Washington D.C. (Secretary); the Smith College Club of Washington D.C.; and the Marine Officers’ Wives’ Clubs in Washington D.C., Camp Lejeune, NC, and Quantico, VA.  

When asked once what she wanted engraved on her tombstone, Bonnie replied, “She tried!”  

Did she ever, and with considerable success, as this life summary indicates. Friends, family, and co-workers will miss her bright presence in their lives.

Services and burial are private.  

Memorial contributions may be sent to The Baldwin School, 701 Montgomery Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA, 19010-3505.  Please visit Mrs. Maxwell’s online memorial at

J. Earl “Duke” Keys

J. Earl “Duke” Keys, 81, of Quarryville passed away on May 7 at Hospice and Community Care in Mount Joy.

He was the husband of the loving and devoted wife of Deborah Myers Keys, with whom he shared 36 treasured years.

Born in Oxford, he was the son of the late William and Lona Miller Keys.

He was a member of the Nottingham Missionary Baptist Church. 

Earl was self-employed as a truck driver for J. Earl Keys Trucking.

He enjoyed dirt racing with his sons, Jim and Ron and his best friends, Dean Price and Ed Kirk. He also enjoyed Harley-Davidson motorcycles, RVs, NASCAR, and driving his Corvette.

He is survived by his wife; two daughters, Jamie Keys of Manhattan, NY and Tracy Forino (Jason) of Quarryville; two sons, Jim Keys (Helen) of Oxford and Ron Keys (Karen) of Perryville, Md; nine grandchildren, Brian Keys (Sherry), Brittany Keys, Jimmy Keys III, Jordyn Keys, Erika Hassel, Mikayla McCamant, Ian McCamant, Matthew Forino and Gabrielle Forino; three great-grandchildren, Roni Keys, Jaci Keys and Carly Jean; one brother, Charles “Bill” Keys of Nottingham; and one sister, Patricia Temple (Eddie) of Oxford.

He was preceded in death by nine siblings, Zola, Ruth, Villa, Tressie, Helen “Pinky”, Opal, Dot, Joe, and Vernon “Bus”.

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, May 12 at 11:30 a.m. at the Nottingham Missionary Baptist Church, 303 W. Christine Rd., Nottingham, PA 19362, where friends and family may visit from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

A live stream video of the service will be made available on the tribute wall. 

Interment will be in Nottingham Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery.

Arrangements are being handled by the Edward L. Collins, Jr. Funeral Home, Inc.  in Oxford.

Online condolences may be made at