George F Orthey II

Born: Sat., Oct. 8, 1932
Died: Tue., Aug. 18, 2020


3:00 PM to 5:00 PM, Thu., Aug. 20, 2020
Location: Highland Presbyterian Church

Funeral Service

5:30 PM Thu., Aug. 20, 2020
Location: Wrights Church Cemetery

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Colonel George F. Orthey, JR, VMD, born to George F. Orthey Sr. and Alice Eva Downer in Passaic, NJ 8 October 1932, passed peacefully with his sons by his side. He registered for Selective Service 1950 and obtained a BA in Agriculture Rutgers University in 1954 in the Army ROTC program. He stayed in the Army and from there he went on to University of Pennsylvania to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine 1958. He was stationed in the Panama Canal zone where he operated an Army jungle animal zoo. Subsequent stations included Puerto Rico, Washington DC, Texas, Hawaii, South Korea, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. He was awarded the Legion of Merit in 1982. He Retired as a full Colonel U.S. Army Veterinary Corps 1982. He was married to Mary Lou Wertz of Newport, PA who preceded him in death and is survived by his very dear friend Marian Wood of Camp Hill, his sister Eugenia MacKellar of Newport, VT, and his sons, George F. Orthey III of Taylorsville, NC and his wife Dorene, and W. Scott Orthey of Drexel Hill, PA and his wife Trudy and their children, Madeleine of Havertown, PA and her husband Barry Harvey, Perry, Ben and his wife Julia, and Rosa all of Philadelphia, PA.

As a luthier, 1964 - 2019, he made and sold over 1,500 Appalachian Dulcimers, 1,500 Autoharps, 200 Hammered Dulcimers, 200 Psalteries. He also made a few experimental instruments including a guitar, some mouth bows and two harpsichords. Related to his musical interests, he was a Founder of the Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering which grew out of an informal gathering which he hosted on his Newport, PA farm in the 1980’s and was formally established in 1990. The gathering continues to flourish, see
He was inducted into the Autoharp Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame in 2014.
A viewing will be held at Highland Presbyterian Church,11 Church Road, Newport, PA, 3-5pm on Thursday, August 20.Burial to follow at Wrights Church Cemetery, Millerstown, PA. In Lieu of flowers please consider a contribution in his name to the Gary Sinise Foundation or the charity of your choice.


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Ed Rech
   Posted Wed August 19, 2020
Go rest high on that mountain George. “Son, your work on Earth is done. Go to Heaven a shoutin’! Love for the Father and the Son.” And what a life’s work it was! We have lost from this world a most remarkable friend. Words cannot fully convey the joy his handiwork brought to so many folks. Be well family and friends in that thought. George, we will see you on the other side my friend.

Evie Scott
   Posted Wed August 19, 2020
We send our prayers for peace and comfort to the Orthey family and friends. Please know how much we share your grief in the loss of this truly gifted man. May music continue to flow thru the instruments he created for generations to come.

Lucille Reilly
   Posted Wed August 19, 2020
SO sorry for EVERYONE’s loss. I already miss him, the clever, thoughtful, wise and “teddy-bear” kind of guy who re-introduced me to the autoharp in marvelous, wonderful, unexpected and affirming ways. George’s work—and George himself!—magnified my music-making to untold, healing dimensions, along with becoming a good friend. I join the ranks of those whose lives he touched in endless ways. To proclaim his “Memory Eternal” isn’t enough; George somehow transcends Eternal! See you again some day, George. All love and blessings to the family and extended family at this very sad time.

Linda Willis
   Posted Thu August 20, 2020
I send condolences to the family and Marian. He will be missed by all who knew him, however close they became. George had a soft welcoming way to everyone that attended the Gathering. I always loved his witty sense of humor and historical insight into Mountain Laurel.

Kenneth W. Longfield
   Posted Thu August 20, 2020
Please accept my deepest sympathy. Since the end of the Mini Mountain Laurel Concerts George and I did not see each other as much as we once did nor correspond as often. Over the years he was a good friend and advisor. I know you will miss him greatly as will all of us who knew and loved your father, brother, companion, etc. Rest in peace, George.

Judy Ireton
   Posted Thu August 20, 2020
Blessings for George. May his family know peace and know that we all respected and enjoyed his beautiful work. Judy Ireton

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