Cover photo for Martha Ann Nissley's Obituary
Martha Ann Nissley

Martha Ann Nissley

d. December 8, 2023


Martha Ann Nissley, of Mechanicsburg, passed away in the early hours of Friday, December 8, 2023 at Bethany Village, Lower Allen Township.

Marty, the former Martha Ann Koons, born in Harrisburg, was the daughter of Nelle E. Koons and LeRoy E. Koons of Penbrook. She was the widow of H. Robert Nissley, originally from Middletown.

She began studying acting, dancing and gymnastics at an early age. As a child actor and dancer, she received her first role at the age of 6 at the Harrisburg Community Theatre and continued acting there. She modeled children’s clothing for local department stores for Fashion Shows. She presented dancing programs for schools and other groups and continued dancing throughout her life.

Attending elementary and junior high school in Penbrook, she was a band member, played on the basketball team and performed in school plays and operettas. She organized and taught dancing and acrobatic classes. After winning the American Legion Award in eighth grade, she took top honors in ninth grade. She represented her school in history quiz bowls throughout the area and edited the school paper. A graduate of John Harris High School, she was a member of the choir, winning volleyball team, National Honor Society, Thespians, Jr. Academy of Science, Sr. Literacy Society, and appeared in class plays. As an honor student, she graduated in the top 5% of her class. She served as treasurer of the Senior Girl Scout Council for the Harrisburg Area.

As a student at Penn State, she was a member of the Women’s Debate Team and the Sophomore Orientation Committee. Receiving membership in the Penn State Players, she appeared in a number of productions, served on its Board of Control as a Senior Manager, and was elected to Theta Alpha Phi, National Dramatics Honorary. Representing the Drama Department, she attended symposiums at other colleges. She was a member of the team of actors who traveled presenting script-in-hand productions for local organizations. Her original radio script was selected by the local radio stations for a performance.

In her senior year, she was chosen as one of fifteen to be a member of Mortar Board, women’s highest honorary for academics and activities. Marty was also hailed as “Who’s Who at Penn State.” Gamma Phi Beta was her social sorority, and she received an award as the most outstanding pledge. She completed her college education in 3 years.

Marty received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in Communications, Speech and Drama. A few years after graduation, she completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education.

After her marriage to H. Robert Nissley of Middletown, she taught drama classes for the Harrisburg Community Theatre and West Shore Recreation Board. One of her favorite occupations was as copy writer for a local radio station.

Later she taught in Lindemuth Elementary School in Susquehanna Township for a few years.

As a former member of Community United Methodist Church in New Cumberland, she sang in the choir and organized a traveling theatre group, presenting biblical plays and skits for churches and community groups around the state. Religious holidays were observed with children’s productions she directed.

As secretary of Pan-Hel Society, she was co-chair for their annual square dances. A member of Harrisburg Story Telling League, she could be found in many schools telling stories in the classrooms. She and her husband excelled as ballroom dancers and taught classes locally, specializing in Latin Rhythms.

Throughout her life she participated in Zumba, aerobics and Tai Chi classes. As avid tennis players, she and her husband played in local tournaments. She continued her love for dancing, singing, and acting. Widely traveled, their favorite trips were ocean cruises.

Another of her activities was serving as a docent for the State Museum in Harrisburg. She volunteered there for 25 years, working with school groups and teaching summer day camps and workshops. As a member of the Museum’s Speakers Bureau, she traveled through the area visiting colleges and schools with her dinosaur programs. For her efforts, she received the Pennsylvania State Volunteer of the Year Award from the Pennsylvania Museum Historical Commission and was also named as the Volunteer of the Year by the Harrisburg Patriot News.

Belonging to Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church, she was a member of the choir. She also sang with the Mechanicsburg Ecumenical Choi, and Bethany Village Women’s Chorus.  

Marty is survived by her nephews, James A. Kern of St. Augustine, FL and Richard C. Kern of Miami, FL; and a niece, Eleanor K. Buff of East Stroudsburg, PA.

Services and burial will be private and held at the convenience of the family. Her final resting place will be alongside her husband in Middletown Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church, 5000 Simpson Ferry Road, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050, or to the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area, 7790 Grayson Road, Harrisburg, PA 17111.



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