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Published: Wednesday, 1/24/2001

With husband, she ran a lumber yard

Alice R. Heising of Waterville, a co-owner of the former Heising Lumber Co., Grand Rapids, Ohio, and a descendant of Peter Navarre and Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, died Monday in St. Luke's Hospital, Maumee. She was 83.

Mrs. Heising died of respiratory failure, her son, Keith, said. She was a patient in the hospital for about a week. She had lived alone in the village of Waterville.

She was a bookkeeper and co-owned the lumber yard with her husband, Eugene, from 1947 to 1972, when they closed the business, sold the eight acres on which it was built, and retired. Mr. Heising died in 1990.

Mrs. Heising attended Neapolis School, but dropped out before she finished high school, her son said. But she successfully completed the state's tests to receive a general equivalency diploma in 1958.

“Mother was a very intelligent person and was well suited to co-owning a lumber business. My father was pretty much self-employed and got into the lumber business by importing lumber from Michigan,” her son said.

The Heising Lumber Co. was four miles from the historic Isaac Ludwig Mill, first bought by Eugene Heising's father, Frank, and owned and operated by Cleo Heising, the elder Mr. Heising's brother, when the two enterprises were active commercially.

Mrs. Heising was a past president of the Altar Rosary Society of St. Patrick's Church, Grand Rapids, where she was the organist and chaired the church's summer festival, which started during World War II and ran into the 1950s, her son said.

“She played the organ at church for more than 30 years. She started with an old pump organ. Then, in the 1960s, the church got an electric organ. She was really enthusiastic about that new organ because she could play more tones on it,” her son said.

She was about five times removed from Commodore Perry on her mother's side, and she was about four times removed from Peter Navarre on her father's side.

As a result, Mrs. Heising took great pride in her connection to Commodore Perry, and her son said she always enjoyed attending the annual reunions held by the descendants of Peter Navarre in East Toledo and Oregon Township before the city of Oregon was incorporated.

In the 1940s, Mrs. Heising was impressed with a new gas kitchen stove her husband bought to replace a kerosene stove she had been using, her son said.

Rather than discard the kerosene stove, Mrs. Heising moved the serviceable stove into the cellar and used it for years in an extensive canning operation that supplied her family with ample jellies and preserves made from peaches, apples, pears, and cherries harvested on land around the lumber business.

Surviving are her sons, Keith, Ferdinand, and Eugene, Jr.; sister, Ruth Chamberlain; 13 grandchildren, and 24 great-grandchildren.

The body will be in the Wright Funeral Home, Grand Rapids, after 2 p.m. today, with Scripture services at 8:30 tonight. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow in St. Patrick's Church, Grand Rapids.

The family requests tributes to the Christian Appalachian Project or to the Eagle Butte Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

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