Erma Schnabel

Erma Schnabel, 100, a 20-year resident of Souderton Mennonite Homes in Pennsylvania, died June 27, 2021. She was born Erma Mae Frey in Elizabethtown.


After graduating from Elizabethtown High School, she received a registered nursing certification from St. Joseph School of Nursing and later worked for St. Joseph Hospital of Lancaster, Western Virginia State Hospital in Staunton, Va., Rockingham County Hospital in Harrisonburg, Va., and the Visiting Nurses Association of Norristown. At age 51, she went to Montgomery County Community College to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing to supplement her RN certificate.

She lived in ever-widening circles, going to Puerto Rico and Jamaica with her first husband, Warren Metzler, who died in 1975; to California with her second husband, Merle Betz, who died in 1990; and on extensive world travels that touched every continent but Antarctica with her third husband, Fred Schnabel, who died in 2006.
Whether crisscrossing the United States, sharing her boundless energy and compassion with her nursing patients in Pennsylvania, Virginia and the Caribbean, supporting Metzler’s pastoral and missionary work in Pennsylvania and Jamaica, or posing for photographs with Schnabel at countless global landmarks, she remained a faithful, longtime member of Methacton Mennonite Church and a devoted and charitable Christian.
As her circles of travel widened, she developed new perspectives, thirsting for a deeper understanding of the world and developing an increasingly compassionate and tolerant worldview. She was gifted with a particular social genius, such that her friendships grew throughout every stage of her journey.
Survivors include her children, John (Adeline) Metzler of East Lansing, Mich., Sharon (Marlin) Metzler-Ruth of Harleysville and Philip Metzler of Washington, D.C.; a foster daughter, Iris (Ransford) Nicholson of Sarasota, Fla.; two stepsons, Carl (Lynne) Schnabel of Green Lane and Richard (Cheryl) Schnabel of Lansdale; two siblings, Lois Frey of Elizabethtown and Wilbur Frey of Lancaster; seven grandchildren; two step-grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.
In addition to her three husbands, she was preceded in death by a son, Warren Frederick; and 10 of her 12 siblings.
Memorial services were held at Williams-Bergey-Koffel Funeral Home. Contributions may be made to Living Branches Souderton Mennonite Homes Agape Fund.

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