Earl Houser, Jr., 60, of State College, one of the best-known and most beloved people in Centre County, passed away unexpectedly on Friday, March 3, 2023, at Mount Nittany Medical Center, after suffering a heart attack at work.
Born Aug. 3, 1962, in Bellefonte, Earl was the son of the late Earl Sr. and Joanne M. (Walters) Houser. A 1980 graduate of Bellefonte Area High School, Earl worked for decades in the Collection Maintenance Unit at Pattee and Paterno Libraries at Penn State, rising to the post of Supervisor. He was dedicated to his department and colleagues. One colleague of many years, Verne Neff, of State College, was also Earl’s best friend. They were working together when Earl passed away. Also, Brent Stump, of State College, was Earl’s longtime neighbor, colleague at work, and very close friend. Earl regularly went above and beyond at work, participating in public relations and community outreach events at the Libraries, and attending many national conferences.
Most people, however, knew Earl because of his involvement in the community. He had a lifelong sense of wonder, which he shared with everyone he met. An accomplished magician, Earl started in kindergarten with tricks from cereal boxes, and gave his first magic show in first grade. When he was 13, he put on his first professional show for a Spring Township Supervisors Christmas Dinner. Since then, Earl has given hundreds of magic shows to school groups, church groups, summer camps, holiday parties, festivals, carnivals, and frequently, on the stage at the Grange Fair. Through his magic, Earl brought joy to young and old alike.
Earl also brought joy to thousands with his fantastic Christmas displays. For years, his home was a panoply of richly adorned trees, animated figures, and festive decorations. Although not a Victorian structure by any means, Earl’s Bellefonte home was part of the Bellefonte Victorian Christmas tours for several years. For the past several years, Earl and Marsha participated in the Grange Fair Tent Decorating Contest. He was also an accomplished cook and baker.
Earl was a huge fan of Disney, having amassed a very large collection of Disney memorabilia, and frequently visited Disney World, Disneyland, and even Disneyland Paris. Earl collected memorabilia from 1960s-1970s television series and movies, especially Sci-Fi. He also loved traveling and took many trips throughout North America.
In recent years, Earl became an author, drawing upon his extensive knowledge of classic television and film, as well as the Bellefonte community. Together with his cousin and close friend, Marsha Ann Tate of Pleasant Gap, who survives, Earl founded Wispy Pines Media, LLC. In 2022, Earl and Marsha published What America Watched: Television Favorites from the Cornfields to the Cosmos, 1960s–1990s, a study covering the classic period of popular television shows from the 1960s through the 1990s, focusing on how regular viewers interacted with television shows on a personal level. In late 2022, they released Bellefonte, a delightful addition to Arcadia’s Images of America Series, documenting the history of the community in photographs.
Earl was a member of Greater Buffalo Run Valley United Methodist Church, and the former Valley View United Methodist Church. He served in many church offices and formerly served as church organist. Recently, he and Marsha regularly attended Emmanuel United Church of Christ at Jacksonville.
In addition to his cousin, Marsha, and his close friends, Verne and Brent, Earl is survived by his uncle, Ralph Houser, Sr., of Valley View; his uncle and aunt, James and Phyllis Walters, of Bellefonte; and many cousins, among whom Susan Houser (Kenneth Robinson), of Bellefonte, and Brenda Corman, of State College, Ralph (Catherine) Houser, Jr., of Valley View, and their children, Justin and Jamilyn, he counted among his dearest friends.
In addition to his parents, Earl was preceded in death by many aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Earl is one of those rare individuals who have meant so much to so many; his family, friends, and colleagues mourn his sudden passing deeply.
Visitation will be held at Wetzler Funeral Service, Inc., 206 N. Spring St., Bellefonte, on Friday, March 10, 2023, from 10 A.M. until 12 P.M. The funeral service will begin at 12 P.M., at the funeral home, with Pastor Cindy Killinger officiating. Interment will follow in Meyer Cemetery, Benner Township.
Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society by going to donate.cancer.org or by calling 1-800-227-2345.