Mrs. Heavner was a nurse, mother, homemaker, cook and gardener. She loved her garden and had a curiosity about the earth; she talked about plant species, growing vegetables, and expressed an interest in horticulture and birds. She had empathy for all people and found a community in church life in her often volunteering and helping others, and guided by her deep faith.
She was born Aug. 11, 1934, to Verna C. Smith and Isaac Saylor Ruddle in Sugar Grove. She was the second youngest in a family of nine children. The family moved to Deer Run. She attended Franklin High School where she took her studies seriously and met a Future Farmer of America youth named George Roger Heavner. She graduated in the Franklin High School class of 1952 along with Mr. Heavner.
She studied to be a nurse at Rockingham Memorial Hospital, graduating in 1956, and placed first in her graduating class of 22 students. Nurses were required to have mental health training in Washington, DC, or Delaware. She went on to work for mental health studies at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Delaware.
On Aug. 9, 1957, she married George Heavner in Franklin.
Mrs. Heavner worked as a nurse while her husband’s job took the family from West Virginia, Kansas and Virginia. She worked as a nurse in Delaware, West Virginia, Providence Medical Center and Claude Huyck Elementary School, both in Kansas City, Kansas, and for many years at Fairfax Nursing Center in Fairfax, Virginia where she retired in 1998.
A co-worker and close friend said, “You have your patients for weeks and months and Betty got to know all of her patients and what they wanted for breakfast. And we loved the work. Betty had a good time working with her friends; she was bright and cheerful and a good person deep inside. She couldn’t do enough for her patients.”
She and her husband moved to Harrisonburg, Virginia, and became members of Asbury Methodist Church. They were very active in their church, helping other families. She was a member of the National Association for Family and Community Education and studied the Bible so she could be a better leader in study sessions.
It was important to her to stay connected to her West Virginia family. The kids remember visiting West Virginia every summer and traveling from Kansas to visit family. After her husband passing on Oct. 1, 2020, she lived with her daughter, Becky, and then as dementia progressed, she moved to Louisville, Colorado, and became a resident at Juniper Village.
She and her husband became parents to David (married to Laura McGregor of Farmington, New York), Becky (married to Bryan Leister of Wheat Ridge, Colorado) and Tom of Boulder, Colorado. Grandchildren and spouses are Matt (married to Allison of Seattle, Washington) and Lindsey Thurber (married to Brennan of Greenwood, New York). Lindsey and Brennen honored her with a great-grandchild named in her husband’s honor, Barret George.
She is survived by their children and many cousins and extended family and was loved by many nieces, nephews and friends. She found friends at Asbury Church and kind neighbors in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
The last member of her immediate family, she was proceeded in death by her siblings, Max, Rich, Ruth, Sue, Connie, Kitty, and Joe.
Lindsay Funeral Home provided service as she is buried alongside of her husband in Cherry Hill Cemetery at Upper Tract.
A memorial service will be arranged this summer through Asbury Methodist Church in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Memorial donations may be made to Asbury United Methodist Church, 205 S. Main Street, Harrisonburg, VA 22801 “Stained Glass Fund” or Ruth Dolly and Betty Heavner Endowment for the Nursing Scholarship at RMH Foundation, 2010 Health Campus Drive, Harrisonburg, VA 22801.