Mary Jean Risser

Private Services

Services are private. If desired, contributions may be made to a charity that enhances the lives of children.

Obituary of Mary Jean Risser

Mary Jean Risser

Faith - Family - Friends


Mary Jean Risser, 84, of Elizabethtown, PA, passed away on Wednesday afternoon, August 25, 2021 at Masonic Health Care Center.  Born in Harrisburg, PA, she was the daughter of the late Walter S. and Margie E. Coble Espenshade.  She was married to the late Gerald H. Risser for 60 years prior to his passing May 16, 2021.


Mary Jean was a loving and devoted mother to her two sons, Gary J., husband of Wipha T. Risser, of Elizabethtown, and Timothy J. Risser of Mechanicsburg.  She adored her four grandsons, Wisanu, Narai, Mason, and Parker, who affectionately called her "DAWA."  Also surviving is a brother, John W. Espenshade of Lancaster.  She was also preceded in death by a sister, Janet Neustadter.


Mary Jean was a member of St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Elizabethtown, where she taught children's church, Vacation Bible School and was a former member of the Mission Commission.  In 1997, the commission accepted her desire to introduce the Samaritan's Purse Christmas Shoebox Project, which later expanded to involve Retirement Living residents at Masonic Village.  Through this project hundreds of needy children in more than 100 countries experienced happiness by receiving gifts in a shoebox.


After graduating from Elizabethtown High School in 1955, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Elizabethtown College.  Mary Jean was employed as an educator by Lower Dauphin School District as a first-grade teacher at Conewago and Londonderry schools.  She was a member of NEA and PSEA Education Associations.  Later, she was a private tutor for more than 20 years.  Her goal was to promote love for learning and make learning exciting.  She was very proud of the success achieved by her students.


Mary Jean served as a board member of the Camp Meeting Association at Mount Gretna and Family and Children's Service.  She was a founding member of Brittany's Hope Foundation.  This gave her the opportunity to help find loving homes for special needs children internationally.  She was presented with the Leadership Impact Award which stated, "In appreciation of your outstanding support of abandoned children around the world through Brittany's Hope."  She also sponsored several children through the Pearl Buck Foundation.  In 2002, while on a trip to Thailand, she was privileged to meet one of her sponsored children.


She will be remembered as a dedicated, thoughtful, and kind caregiver for family members and friends, as well as a volunteer at Masonic Village Heath Care Center.


Services are private. If desired, contributions may be made to a charity that enhances the lives of children.  To express a condolence with the family or for additional information, visit


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