Funland mourns death of founder Jean Fasnacht

Park to close for funeral Aug. 20
August 16, 2013

From the day Funland opened in Rehoboth Beach, founder Jean Fasnacht was on hand to tell stories, welcome visitors, cook up a meal for employees and help out with the many tasks that had to be done.

The matriarch of the popular Boardwalk amusement park passed away at her Rehoboth home Aug. 11 at the age of 84.

Funland will close for the day Tuesday, Aug. 20, so the family can attend a celebration of Fasnacht’s life in Hershey, Pa.

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Chris Darr, grandson-in-law to Fasnacht and personnel manager of Funland, said this is the first time in Funland’s history that the park has closed for the day, other than for weather events.

“Jean was here from when they opened the doors and has been a constant presence the entire time,” Darr said. “Jean would do anything and everything for the customers that came in. She was a wonderful person who we all loved.”

While the family is typically private, Darr said it was important for them to make sure as many visitors as possible knew the park would be closed Aug. 20 to avoid disappointing its many customers.

Gus and Gus have been Funland neighbors for nearly 50 years. Gus and Gus co-owner Bill Svolis said he grew up with Funland people. "I used to run around there all the time as a kid. She was a nice lady. I'm sorry to see she passed away."

Co-founders Al and Jean Fasnacht were married for 64 years and have three children: daughter Gail and sons Neil and Craig. Fasnacht was a graduate of Hershey High School and Hershey Junior College

Gail’s husband, Bill Henschke, said Fasnacht was a great storyteller, who loved to play golf and reminisce, and she was always around to help other people. He recalled going out one day to paint the benches at Funland, and just as he got started, out came Jean to help, and together they got the painting done.

“That’s the kind of person she was,” Henschke said.

After their first building was destroyed in the Storm of ’62, Henschke said, the Fasnachts started from scratch and built Funland into what it is today. He said Fasnacht was like a mother figure, particularly when Funland had its own dormitory for employees above the park.

He said Fasnacht had been ill and died peacefully in her sleep.

“She was quite a person,” Henschke said. “She is going to be missed.”

Visitation will be held from 6 to 9 p.m., Monday, Aug. 19, at Hoover Funeral Home in Hershey. A celebration of Fasnacht’s life will be held at 11 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 20 at her church, First United Methodist Church in Hershey.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to First United Methodist Church’s stained glass window fund or to the Hershey Food Bank, P.O. Box 206, Hershey, Pa., 17033.


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