A grassroots effort to support the wife and siblings of an Amish family that’s been stunned by the deaths of four family members this year has swept through Penns Valley.
Hundreds rallied to offer a helping hand to widow Esther Beiler and her six children. Some suggested items like flowers or food, while others offered money or helped prepare for the funeral.
Others offered their time to complete unfinished projects on the family’s more than 100-acre farm in Potter Township, including a building that Andrew Beiler, 47, was constructing for two of his children that are set to get married this fall.
Scott Ilgen, a 52-year-old that’s known the family for 45 years, said Beiler and his two sons who died Wednesday were “very good people.”
“Andy was a very important Amishman in the community. He was a preacher in his church. Wonderful family, wonderful wife. Overall, just a real nice family to have as a neighbor,” Ilgen said. “... He’s not family, but yet he was family.”
Brush Valley Floral is donating any delivery fees to a relief fund that will make its way to the family. The family-owned shop that’s based in Rebersburg plans to match any donations, owner Rachel Gavlock said.
Her mother and step-father are neighbors of the Beilers. She said they formed a “tremendous friendship” with the family.
“We’re going to miss seeing them out in the fields. It’s every day,” Gavlock said. “I know my mom would comment on seeing them; they would spend a lot of time walking over and just being part of their farm life, their daily life. They were close.”
Beiler and his two sons — Nathan Beiler, 19, and Daniel Beiler, 14 — were killed Wednesday after being trapped in a silo on the farm. They died of asphyxiation due to silo gas, Centre County Deputy Coroner Jason Brooks wrote. Their deaths were ruled accidental.
Jonathan Beiler, 16, died at the farm in March. His death was also ruled accidental.
Long Lane Farm Stand established a donation jar for the family. Michelle Verge, who co-owns the farmers market with her boyfriend Scott Long, said his family worked with Andrew Beiler for more than 30 years and was “devastated” by his death.
“It’s hard enough living day by day when everything is going great,” Verge said. “But when something unexpected like this happens, then it’s really nice to know that you have people around you that will support you.”
Visitors were welcomed all day Thursday to the home along Lower Brush Valley Road. The funeral, which saw hundreds of people in dozens of horse-and-buggy come to remember three valued members of the community, was Friday.
“They’re going to be missed,” Ilgen said.