Joseph Zerfass Meck, 90, Ephrata, WWII vet, employed by Kerr Group, a fixture at the Ephrata Cloister

By on March 30, 2016

Joseph Zerfass Meck, 90, of Ephrata, passed away Monday, March 28, 2016, at Wellspan Ephrata Community Hospital.

Born March 18, 1926, on the former Fairview Farm of the Ephrata Cloister, he was the son of the late Harry Leed and Helen M. (Zerfass) Meck. Joe and his wife Sara Anne (Neff) Meck would have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on June 2, 2016.

His parents and grandfather, William Young Zerfass were three of the last 11 survivors of the German Seventh Baptist Church of the Ephrata Cloister. The Zerfass family has been associated with the Cloister since 1745.

As a volunteer interpreter, Joe enjoyed sharing the history with those who came to visit the historical site. It gave him the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. Joe was a dedicated supporter of the Student Historian Program. He was instrumental in the acquisition of the Mt. Zion Cemetery for the PHMC, and had taken a very person interest in its care.

In 1994, Joe was recognized by the site and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission as the site’s Volunteer of the Year. In March 2006, the PMHC and the Ephrata Cloister Associates presented Joe with an Outstanding Achievement Award in recognition of his long standing service and exceptional contributions to the Ephrata Cloister.

For many years Joe served on the Board of Directors of the Ephrata Cloister Associates and he and his wife served as volunteer coordinators for Cloister weddings. Both were awarded Honorary Lifetime Memberships in the Associates. He also held memberships in the Eicher Arts Center and the Cocalico Valley Historical Society.

During WWII, he served in the Navy’s pilot training program.

Joe graduated from the Ephrata High School in 1944 and attended Franklin and Marshall College. He was a graduate of the Wyomissing Polytechnic Institute, forerunner to the Penn State Berks Campus. In 1986, he retired from the Engineering and Design Department of the Kerr Group Inc., Lancaster plant.

Joe held a lifetime membership in the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and was a past chairman of the Greater Lancaster Chapter of the Society.

He was a member of the Ephrata Church of the Brethren where he formerly served as an usher, chairman of the Boys Scout Trout Committee, president of the Men’s Work Group and president of the Goodwill Workers Sunday School Class.

A 59-year Mason, his Masonic affiliations were with the Ephrata Blue Lodge #665 F. & A.M., the Lancaster Lodge of Perfection, the Reading Consistory and the Rajah Shrine Temple. He was also a member of the Lancaster County Shrine Club.

Joe’s interests and activities included genealogy, local history, astronomy, the space program, photography, etching glass, but most of all he enjoyed working with his hands, either fixing or creating or improving things to make life a little easier.

He and his wife enjoyed traveling, including trips throughout New England, the West Coast, Europe and most of all, their annual vacation to Ogunquit, Maine. A highlight on one of their trips to Maine was meeting George Bush (41) and his wife Barbara.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by four children: David L., husband of Dale (Champlin) Meck of Hyde Park, N.Y.; Karen K. Meck of Millersville; William S. Meck of Reinholds; Daniel J., husband of Clarita (Nacar) Meck of Lancaster; nine grandchildren: Kristin, Allison, Michael, Matthew, JoAnna, Jessica, Sheryl, Michelle, Joseph J.; five great-grandchildren: Leanne, Ethan, Lucas, Julian and Ace’on.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a son: James Andrew Meck; and a granddaughter: Jenifer Susan Meck.

A viewing will be held Friday, April 1, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Stradling Funeral Home, 201 Church Ave., Ephrata. An additional viewing will be held on Saturday, April 2, from 10 to 11 a.m., at the Ephrata Church of the Brethren, 201 Crescent Ave., Ephrata, followed by his funeral service at 11 a.m., with Pastor Rob Eshelman officiating. Interment will take place in the Mt. Zion Cemetery.

Joe’s family would like to thank their friends and neighbors for the many acts of kindness shown to them during the period of his health problems.

Arrangements by Stradling Funeral Homes, Inc., Akron/Ephrata. Online condolences can be given at



About mhunnefield

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *