John Robert Eyer, 89, of Palmyra, passed away peacefully on Friday, September 8, 2023, at Londonderry Village, Palmyra, Pennsylvania. Born Tuesday, December 5, 1933, at home in Elizabethtown, PA, he was the son of the late Earl and Sue (Good) Eyer. John’s life was dedicated to selfless, peace-loving service instilled in him throughout his childhood with a deep connection to his faith through the Brethren in Christ community in Elizabethtown, PA. Following his graduation from Elizabethtown High School, he had the opportunity to put these principles into action during two years of voluntary service in Germany through PAX, a program of alternative service of the Mennonite Central Committee, where he constructed houses for war refugees and also conducted community choirs. Upon returning to USA, he completed his Bachelor’ s Degree in Sacred Music at Messiah College in 1958, later earning his Master of Music Education at University of Illinois. It was during his undergraduate education at Messiah College that he met his wife, Margaret Steckley from Ontario, Canada with whom he would embark on a 64 year love affair of marriage and parenthood and commence his career of music ministry and music education in both the USA and Canada.
John began his 33-year teaching career at Niagara Christian College, Ontario, Canada in 1961. This was followed by a seven-year teaching position at a public school in Clarence Center, New York. In 1970, John accepted a faculty position in the Donegal School District in Mount Joy, PA teaching elementary music in various schools including Maytown, Seiler, Grandview and Riverview. His family settled in Maytown where he utilized his carpentry skills in building his own home. In addition to music education, John was a very talented and inspired musician both in vocal and instrumental music, with special focus on the trumpet. He was deeply invested in music ministry, to uplift others through songs of praise and worship, acting as the minister of music in his hometown church of Elizabethtown Brethren-in-Christ for 25 years. During this time, he led the church in a music ministry that inspired and enhanced congregational worship and fellowship, engaging all age levels in a variety of musical experiences and education. He organized and conducted church choirs and bell choirs, as well as being a dedicated member in the church, serving in numerous capacities including acting as a deacon along with his wife, Marge. He instilled his love of God and nature into his children through many camping excursions and traveling across the USA, admiring the beauty and splendor of God’s handiwork along the way. In addition, he was an avid gardener, maintaining a vegetable garden well into his mid-eighties. In his golden years, he traveled with his wife Marge throughout Europe, the Canadian Rockies and Alaska and continued to coordinate and lead choirs throughout the Brethren in Christ communities as well as organizing senior choirs at Londonderry Village. Even in his final days, he would not hesitate to pull out his trumpet and play a favorite hymn or two, inspired by the famous Psalm: “Praise Him with the sounding of trumpets…. Praise Him with string and flute. Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord.” Psalms 150: 3-6. Worship through music was his life and breath.
He is survived by three children: J. Randall Eyer, of Mount Joy, Bruce E. Eyer, married to Karen, of Mount Joy, and Janice Protopapas, married to Scott Reynolds, of Wrightsville, PA. Also surviving are his grandchildren: Helena Protopapas and Yiorgo Protopapas. He is also survived by his elder brother, Laverne Eyer. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife, Margaret L. Eyer and his eldest sister, Jane Eyer. He will be remembered for his deep connection to faith through music and his gentle and kind-heartedness and selfless service which he shared with all whom he met. He truly loved his family and demonstrated the deepest level of Christian love. He will be dearly missed and forever in our hearts.
A funeral service will be held on Thursday, September 21, 2023 at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church, 996 East High Street, Elizabethtown, PA 17022 at 11:00 AM. Visitation will be from 10:00 AM until the time of service. Interment will take place in East Donegal Cemetery. The service will be live streamed on the Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church YouTube channel.