One of Lebanon’s “sweetest” partnerships saw its conclusion today with the funeral service for Fred A. “Rip” and Nancy J. VanWinkle. Rev. Barry S. Kendall of Messiah Lutheran officiated.

The couple died within days of each other after 65 years of marriage.

Fred “Rip” VanWinkle was born in Lebanon on March 14, 1934. He graduated from Lebanon High School in 1952 and worked for 30 years at Lebanon Steel Foundry/Quaker Alloy. He also served as the accountant for the family business, Van Winkle Opera Fudge. Rip passed away Thursday, February 7 at the WellSpan Good Samiritan Hospital.

Nancy Jagnow was born in Lebanon on October 18, 1934, and graduated from Lebanon High School the same year as Rip. They got married shortly thereafter. Nancy passed away Monday, February 11, also at the WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital. In addition to creating the opera fudge business, she also for many years served as Judge of Elections in 5th Ward East and participated as a member of the Republican Women. She and Rip were members of Messiah Lutheran Church.

Nancy Van Winkle began making opera fudge (actually a candy) in the 1960’s and always made it “the old-fashioned way”, e.g. no electric mixers. Chris Sholly wrote about Nancy in 2009 and shared that the then-75 year old had gotten a few different opera fudges recipes from neighbors and selected the best one.

The family suggested that memorial contributions be made to the Lebanon County Humane Society or the Alzehimer’s Association.

In a Facebook post, the company confirmed that the brand would continue to be made “the exact same way by the Van Winkle family.”

Post updated to include Facebook post by the company.


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  1. I am from Annville and have lived in Havertown, PA for 40 years. I told my wife about opera fudge years ago and that started repeated trips of 170 miles to the Van Winkle household. They were so nice to talk to and people like them are in short supply

  2. Rip was also a coach for the YMCA little league baseball age 8 thru 12 He was a great coach and a Very Great Man Married to Nancy a lovin wife they will be MISSED by MANY