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Marie 'Gerry' Heying, age 95

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Marie “Gerry” Heying, age 95 of Elma, died Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024, at Afton Oaks Assisted Living in Elma. 

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 22, 2024, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Elma with the Rev. Ken Glaser celebrating the Mass. 

Interment will be held at Calvary Cemetery, Elma with Tom McGrane, Randy Voves, Lance Lawrence, Scott Freidhof, David Pitz, Trevor Heying, Jesse Heying, Nick Heying and Landon Buckridge serving as pallbearers. 

Friends may greet the family from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024, at Hugeback-Johnson Funeral Home & Crematory in Elma where there will be a 3 p.m. public Rosary. Visitation continues an hour prior to the Mass at the church on Monday. 

Marie Geraldine “Gerry” Heying passed away peacefully on Jan. 16, 2024, in Elma. Born on March 19, 1928, in rural Howard County, IA, the daughter of Phillip and Elizabeth (Rosonke) Biwer, Gerry’s life was one marked by dedication to her family, her work, and her unwavering faith.

Gerry’s early education took place at the Afton 8 Country School in rural Elma until the 8th grade. She then continued her studies at Immaculate Conception High School in Elma, graduating in 1945. 

After high school, Gerry worked at Art Gansen’s Allis Chalmers store, a job that would serendipitously introduce her to Leander “Slim” Heying. Their partnership flourished into a lifelong love, and they were married on Jan. 21, 1947, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Elma. Together, they welcomed 11 children into the world, nurturing a family grounded in love and mutual respect.

The couple began their married life west of Elma on a farm, eventually moving to a farmstead east of Elma. Gerry was a force of nature on the farm, working alongside Slim in the fields, managing equipment, and caring for the animals. Her green thumb was evident in the large vegetable gardens she cultivated, providing sustenance and nourishment for her growing family.

Gerry’s talents extended well beyond the fields. She was a skilled seamstress, often seen sewing and mending clothes for her children and neighbors. Her culinary prowess was legendary; Gerry could always be counted on to have a delicious four-course meal waiting for her family and friends. Her cakes and baked goods were a source of joy for all who had the pleasure of tasting them, and her recipes will be cherished and missed by family and friends alike.

As her children grew older, Gerry found a new way to express her innate desire to care for others. She became a nurse’s aide at the Colonial Manor in Elma, where for about 30 years, she was a valued employee known for her compassionate nature. Her dedication to helping others also extended to her and Slim’s role as custodians at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Elma, where they served for many years, generously offering their time and talents to the parish.

Gerry’s faith was the cornerstone of her existence. A lifetime member of the Immaculate Conception Church in Elma and a longtime member of the Rosary Society, she lived her faith every day, inspiring those around her to do the same. Gerry’s faith-filled life was a testament to her belief in kindness, service, and community.

Those who knew Gerry would speak of her selfless nature. She was the kind of person who always put others before herself, and who found the greatest joy in the happiness and well-being of those she loved. 

Her presence was a comforting constant in the lives of her family, and her absence will be deeply felt. 

Her garden was her pride, and many people stopped to chat with her ended up enjoying from her bountiful harvest. Her reward was how much she could give to help others. 

The family would like to thank the staff of Colonial Manor & Afton Oaks for her wonderful care.

Gerry is survived by her children, Jean (Vern) Voves of Elma, Kay Lawrence of Monticello, Joanne (Rick) Freidhof of Cresco, Pat (Merle) Pitz of Elma, John (Donna) Heying of Elkader, Rick (Ann) Heying of Alta Vista, Roger (Rose) Heying of Alta Vista, Andy Heying of Webster City, Becky (Keith) Buckridge of Edgerton, Minnesota, and son-in-law, Lavern McGrane of Elma; 30 grandchildrens; 46 great-grandchildren; seven  great-great-grandchildren; brother, Al (Donna) Biwer of Elma; brother-in-law, Joe Glaser of New Hampton; sister-in-law, Jackie Biwer of Surprise, Arizona; close friend, Janice Kobliska of Elma; along with numerous nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Leander Heying in 1998; son, Ernest Heying in infancy; daughter, Donna McGrane in 2007; two grandsons; two great-grandchildren; son-in-law, Clem Lawrence; three sisters, Mary Ann, Betty, and Phyllis; and two brothers, Joe and Matt.

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