Cover photo for Dorothy McGeer's Obituary
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1921 Dorothy 2017

Dorothy McGeer

October 7, 1921 — December 16, 2017

Dorothy McGeer, who embodied the meaning of unconditional love, died quietly at home the evening of December 16, 2017, at the age of 96. She was determined to be with her husband of 73 years, the late Thomas R. McGeer Sr., in time for his birthday on December 21. The couple formerly owned and operated McGeer’s Pub in Wilkes-Barre for 20 years.

She never talked about loyalty but she and her husband showed what it was their whole lives. She would not have been the Avon kingpin of Luzerne County if he didn’t chauffer her around to drop off orders and visit with customers (she never had any interest in learning to drive). And he would not have been a dart champion without her, because not many wives would have been supportive through so many nights spent in bars, much less have steak and potatoes waiting on the stove at home.
They were a team, as exemplified by their “beer hat” sideline in the 70s. They’d collect aluminum beer cans; he’d cut out the logos from each can and snip holes around the edges, then she’d crochet them into hats and sell them. Her entrepreneurial spirit and outgoing nature got them into many small enterprises like this, and though Mr. McGeer sometimes grumbled, he’d do so with a hole puncher in his hand, snipping away.

Always affable and sociable, Mrs. McGeer loved visiting with others to pass the time, which undoubtedly helped fuel decades of success with her Avon business (she was continually in the President’s Club and collected many Albee Awards) and with the bar later in life.

The visits she enjoyed most were those of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and she usually had a small gift ready for them when they would stop in. She often told them to “hold your horses,” even though none of them own horses. Noncompliance was met with threats like, “I’ll bop you one.” But no one recalls ever getting bopped.

Conversations were easy with her, as was just sitting quietly and relaxing while one of her favorite programs played on the television – a game show perhaps. She was the kind of person you just liked being around.

She crocheted avidly for decades and kept her grandchildren (and many others) in ponchos, hats and scarfs. She also spent countless nights working on afghans over the years, in an effort to get one done for each grandchild.
She decorated for every holiday, but especially went all out for St. Patrick’s Day. The decorative spirit got more extensive, instead of less so, as she got older. After she moved south, and no longer had the front windows of her home, or the walls of the bar, to cover with decorations, she took to having her nails done regularly, sometimes taking weeks to research a different design for every finger. Ever social, she enjoyed showing them off on Facebook and at the doctor’s office, where they were a major conversation piece.

She was quick to smile and almost impossible to anger. But even if she rarely spoke a critical word about anyone, that’s not to say she was always approving. She could express more with one look than most people can with a thousand words. You knew instantly whether what you’d said or done had pleased, befuddled or disappointed her. The look of disapproval she would give instead of saying anything will be a lasting memory.

She never missed church on Sunday if she was healthy, and said her prayers every night, always kneeling on the side of the bed until she was no longer able. Similar to the way she expressed loyalty, she did not preach tolerance, forgiveness and love; she simply modeled these qualities. Her ability to accept people at their worst, and show them love even more so then, is a defining attribute. “It’s not my place to judge,” she would say, if others spoke harshly about someone. “I’ll leave the judging to God.”

She also will be remembered for her willingness to read storybooks aloud repeatedly; her singing while rocking grandbabies to sleep (“You Are My Sunshine” was a favorite); her luck at church bazaars and bingo games (she never seemed to come home without a prize); her weekly appointments at the hair salon; her babushkas and nightcaps (to keep her hair from getting messed up between salon visits); her Sunday roasts, her mashed potatoes and her pigs in the blanket; the bin of assorted candy she kept on top of the washing machine in the kitchen and the string of lollipops always hanging on the wall in the living room.

Born Oct. 7, 1921, in Nanticoke, she was the daughter of the late Adam and Edith Lubinski. She grew up on East Noble Street, where the family kept chickens in the backyard, and attended Nanticoke schools.

She worked for many years in the garment industry, doing sewing work at Mac Gregory’s, Pittston Apparel, J and L, Val’s Sportswear and Page Boy Dress. She was a member of the ILGWU and Amalgamated Union. She also worked as a clerk at Koronkiewicz Pharmacy and as a ticket seller at the Family Movie Theater in Nanticoke, where she met an usher who asked to walk her home one night after work. She never let anyone besides him walk her home after that.

They were married Oct. 1, 1942, in St. John’s Lutheran Church, Nanticoke, about two months before he went off to fight in World War II. They later had their marriage blessed at St. Francis Church in Nanticoke. The couple lived in the Lee Park section of Hanover Twp. for many years, before moving to St. Petersburg, Fla., in their 90s.

They closed McGeer’s Pub in 2008, when Mr. McGeer was 87 and Mrs. McGeer was 86, and they were told at the time by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board that they were the oldest bar owner-operators in the state. They had run the Hazle Street business for two decades, tending bar themselves six days a week until the end, and they thought of many of their customers as family.

Besides her husband, who died on March 12, 2015, Mrs. McGeer was preceded in death by siblings, Edith, Bernice, Adam Jr. (known as “Len”) and Nancy; and two grandchildren, Peter Justin McGeer and Kelly (Krapf) Prouty.

Mrs. McGeer will be greatly missed by her children, Thomas Jr., Wilkes-Barre Twp., and Judith Ann Krapf, St. Petersburg; 14 grandchildren; 19 great-grandchildren; siblings, Jean Hozlock and Edwin Lubinski, both of Levittown; and many nieces and nephews.

On the day after arriving home from a trip to her bedside to say good-bye for the last time, one of the grandchildren opened his window shades in the morning to the sight of two cardinals, a male and a female, sitting on the front porch railing. Cardinals are said to be a message from heaven, and he has taken it to mean that Grammy and Grandpap are happy together again.
To order memorial trees in memory of Dorothy McGeer, please visit our tree store.

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

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