ShareThis Page
News

Printing plant owner known for her hugs

| Thursday, Nov. 3, 2005

Jean McIlnay never met a person she wouldn't hug.

"She loved people," her husband James A. McIlnay said. "She loved everybody, and you can ask any person in Ligonier about her hugs. She hugged everybody. The people in the post office got their hugs, the people at Bethlen Home, the people on the street she knew. "

Jean A. McIlnay, who with her husband owned and operated the Bethlen Printing Co. in Ligonier, died suddenly, Monday, Oct. 31, 2005, in Excela Health Latrobe Area Hospital. She was 61.

Mrs. McIlnay was born Aug. 29, 1944, in Greensburg, a daughter of Ruth L. Beer Baker, of Stahlstown, and the late Quentin A. Baker.

She grew up in Stahlstown and was the oldest of 10 children. "We actually looked at Jean Ann as the captain of our family," her brother, Roy Baker, said.

Mrs. McIlnay attended secretarial school after her 1962 graduation from Ligonier Valley High School. She lived and worked in Greensburg for a time as a secretary for an attorney.

In 1965, she met James McIlnay at a carnival at the Luxor Fire Hall in Hempfield Township. "We met in June and got married in October," James McIlnay said.

"We had a couple carnivals, and she came there," he continued. "I was on the chuck-a-luck wheel, and she spent a lot of time, so I took her out."

The couple just recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary.

In 1972, they moved their young family to Stahlstown, where they built a house on her family's homestead.

A little over a decade later, she and her husband and another partner bought Bethlen Printing. The couple became the sole owners of the business about five years ago.

"We worked together all those years and spent 24 hours a day together," James McIlnay said. "When you spend 24 hours a day with someone, it can get hectic at times, but it worked out. If I had to do it all over again I would."

Mrs. McIlnay was very active in the Stahlstown Flax Scutching Festival, an event held annually for nearly 100 years. James McIlnay said his wife was in charge of advertising for the festival for many years. Her family also ran a funnel cake booth at the event, which celebrates the art of making linen from the flax plant.

Mrs. McIlnay served on the board of directors of the Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce. She volunteered for many years with the Bethlen Home, Ligonier YMCA and the Girl Scouts.

"Between the shop and all the things that she did volunteer-wise, it kept her real busy," James McIlnay said.

But her brother said Mrs. McIlnay always had time for holidays.

"She was very festive," he said. "If you could see her house right now, it is festive for the fall, Halloween tradition. You go downstairs and there's a room in their basement area that has the boxes packed for each holiday."

Mrs. McIlnay's daughter, Jodi Goodlin, said her mother planned to sing in her church's Christmas cantata again this year.

But this time, she convinced Goodlin to join her. They went to their first practice together at the Armbrust Wesleyan Church just a few weeks ago.

"I'm going to sing in this Christmas cantata because I know she's up there and she wants me to do it," Goodlin said.

In addition to her mother, she is also survived by her husband, James A. McIlnay; a daughter, Mrs. Thomas (Jodi) Goodlin, of Mt. Pleasant; two sons, James W. (and his wife Cindy) McIlnay, of Baltimore, and Jason Q. McIlnay, of Stahlstown; three granddaughters, Sadie, Laryssa and Katrina; four sisters, Mrs. Ray (Margaret Lou) Sanner, of Stahlstown, Mrs. Jay (Marti) Etter, of Hilton Head, S.C., Mary Ellen Musgrove, of Ruffsdale, and Mrs. William (Karen) Baker Heffner, of Acme; and five brothers, the Rev. Quentin A. "Buzz" (and his wife, Marge) Baker, of Savannah, Ga., Roy T. (and his wife, Betty) Baker, of Mountain Top, Luzerne County, Robert C. Baker, of Stahlstown, Philip J. (and his wife, Tracy) Baker, of Mt. Pleasant, and William E. (and his wife, Valerie) Baker, of Champion.

Friends were received Wednesday at the J. Paul McCracken Funeral Chapel, Inc., 144 E. Main St., Ligonier, where her life will be celebrated at 11 a.m. today with her pastor, Byron T. Eisaman, officiating. Interment will follow at Stahlstown Cemetery.

A scholarship fund in Mrs. McIlnay's name will be set up to help local teachers in the Ligonier Valley School District pursue further education. Memorial contributions may be made to the Jean A. McIlnay Memorial Fund, c/o 144 E. Main St., Ligonier, PA 15658.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me