Leonard Walter Sorensen, 92, of New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, died on July 28,
He was a resident at Bethany Village in Mechanicsburg. Len was born in
Chicago, Illinois on November 15, 1921, the son of Arthur W. Sorensen and Elsie
Kleinschmidt Sorensen. His family later moved to Elmhurst, Illinois where he lived until
he volunteered for military service after the start of World War II. He came to
Pennsylvania as an Army Air Corps cadet during the war to study advanced flight
navigation at Dickinson College. During his training he was a visitor to the Harrisburg
YWCA USO where he met his future wife Margaret Osvatics. He became a navigator
and flew with a B-29 “Superfortress” bomber group stationed on the island of Guam until
the end of the war.
Len and Margaret married on January 6, 1945. They settled in Harrisburg, then moved
to New Cumberland to raise their two children. Len first worked as the manager and
butcher in the family-owned Highland Superette grocery store in Camp Hill. His earlier
interest in horticulture led him to expand the store offerings to lawn and garden
supplies. By the mid-1950s, this expansion evolved into Highland Gardens, which
remains a successful family-owned business.
During his lifetime Len was active in a wide variety of community services and volunteer
organizations, many of which he served as chair, president or founding member. A few
of these included: West Shore Chamber of Commerce (Les Ginanni Award, 2006);
Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association (Lifetime Membership Award, 1995);
Lutheran church (social services committees, Sunday school teacher, managing
sponsor for a family from Vietnam); Lowther Manor Masonic Lodge (75 Year Member
Award, 2013); Host for a talk-radio show called “Ask Uncle Len”; Mayor of New
Cumberland from 1976 to 1981 (a role that called upon his expert interpersonal and
organizational skills, especially during the Three Mile Island crisis).
Len’s surviving family includes his wife of 69 years, Margaret; daughter Nila S. Hill
(Douglas) of Elkton, MD and son Larry W. Sorensen of New Cumberland, PA
(companion, Suzanne Mayer of Camp Hill, PA). Len was “Gramps” to his grandchildren
Alexander Hill (Kari), Lauren Hill, and Whitney Sorensen and his great grandchildren
Allyson and Caitlin Hill. He is also survived by two nieces and two nephews as well as
the staff and customers of Highland Gardens.
The family thanks the staff at Bethany Village and Heartland Hospice for their support
and assistance. In lieu of flowers and in celebration of Len’s life, the family suggests
that you volunteer for an organization of your choice or to help someone in need as he
did during his life and/or make a contribution to Grace Lutheran Church,1610 Carlisle
Road, Camp Hill, Pa 17011.
A memorial service to celebrate Len's life will be held on Friday, August 15th at 11:00am at Grace Lutheran Church, 1610 Carlisle Road, Camp Hill, PA.