Homeland resident Loretta Colestock: A life of love and service


After 65 years of marriage, Loretta Colestock lost her husband to Alzheimer’s in 2015.

It was a challenging time. In the years after his death, she got tired of rambling around alone in the house, but she also wanted to retain her independence.

Loretta had heard about Homeland Center’s stellar reputation and decided, “Homeland is a good spot for me.”

“I told the kids and surprised them,” she said. “They went on the tour with me and seemed to like everything about it.”

Since coming to Homeland last August, Loretta has settled in comfortably. Enjoying crafts, attending music programs, hosting family visits, and singing with the staff — it suits her joyous and dynamic nature.

Loretta was born in Harrisburg and lived in the area between Harrisburg and Hershey, known as Lawnton, from sixth grade on. She was the second of five siblings raised by a hard-working single mother.

“She was a jewel,” Loretta recalls. “She never wanted to ask for help. She thought she could do it all herself. My siblings, we all got along so well. We were very close because we knew that Mom was doing her best. We were brought up on hand-me-downs, but we survived, and I think it made us stronger.”

Loretta graduated from high school in 1955 and worked at the former Harrisburg National Bank. In those days, Loretta would attend games fielded by the bank’s softball team. One player recruited a friend who was a good hitter and pitcher, and that’s how she met David Colestock, “who kind of swept me off my feet, I guess.”

David and Loretta were married in 1959 and raised four children. They settled in the Lenker Manor community of Swatara Township. He worked as a draftsman designer for Gannet Fleming, the engineering firm.

They stayed active in the community, with David coaching Little League, serving as a Swatara Township commissioner, and volunteering on the Swatara Township Police Commission.

Together, they served in the Paxtang Lions Club, participating in projects such as providing eyeglasses for the visually impaired. Loretta also sang soprano in their church choir, taught Sunday school, and joined church outreach efforts, including volunteering at a local nursing home.

“We always did a lot of volunteer service work,” said Loretta. “It’s kind of in our blood. They say if you want something done, ask a busy person. People would ask me, ‘Can you do this?’ and I’d say, ‘I don’t know,’ but I’d always give in.”

After the kids were grown, Loretta taught nursery school for 20 years.

“It was fun,” she said. “Kids today need more playtime rather than being on devices and the TV all the time. They need to play with other children.”

The Colestock children all did well, and Loretta is very proud of them. While still in her home during the pandemic, she heard voices singing outside. Looking out the window, she saw her children and their families there to serenade her.

Music remains an integral part of Loretta’s life. When Homeland CNA Aprile Greene breaks into song in the dining room – maybe singing “You Light Up My Life” or “You Are My Sunshine” – Loretta sings along.

Often, Loretta enjoys the peace of her personal care suite. Still, she’s also likely to be found playing bingo or dominoes, making wreaths in a craft session, or enjoying the performance of a visiting musician. For her first Christmas in Homeland, she adorned her room with cherished decorations she brought from home, including small glass lanterns inherited from her mother.

“I’m happy at Homeland,” she said. “I think it’s good. I like that it’s so clean, and the girls are so nice when they come in to help.”

But her independent streak still shows sometimes.

“They want to make the bed,” Loretta said. “I won’t let them. They say, ‘We’re supposed to do that,’ but I say I have to do something. I can’t just sit around.”

Loretta has nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren and is a frequent guest at birthday parties and weddings. When she hosts family visits, the youngsters enjoy running around the Homeland gardens and getting ice cream sandwiches in the Gift Shop located in Homeland’s ‘50s-style diner.

Her suite is decorated with family pictures and furnished in antique pieces refinished by her husband. All provide mementos of a rich life, and she said she’s received compliments on her decor from the staff.

“They love the room,” she said. “They like the way I have it decorated.”