Gay Nell Peebles Heitman, beloved wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, died peacefully on July 18 after a brief battle with pneumonia and COVID-19. A resident of Willow Valley Lakes Retirement Community, she was 97 years old.
Gay was born on June 5, 1923 to Barney and Eunice Peebles in Philadelphia, MS. The oldest of four children, she was instrumental in keeping her brothers and sister happy and the household running well. After attending the town’s primary and secondary schools, she went on to study microbiology at Mississippi State College for Women in Columbus, MS.
Following college graduation, she participated in the war effort by working as a chemist in a munitions factory in Lake Charles, LA. There in 1945, she worked with and married Fred Heitman, a handsome New Yorker who was her supervisor. They were to spend almost 60 years of married life together. In 1945 they moved north, living first in New York City, then Plymouth Meeting, PA and finally in Lancaster. During that time they had three children, Frederick, Patricia, and Julia.
Family was everything to Gay. She was a fantastic cook, impeccable housekeeper and a wonderful mother. Gay was a natural at propping up family members whenever needed, supporting them through the many chapters of their lives. Her mission was to love unconditionally ─ and then love some more.
Known by family and friends for her winsome southern charm, she enjoyed playing bridge with church friends, browsing fine old department stores, collecting beautiful things, and traveling with Fred. While at Willow Valley Retirement Community, she enjoyed worship at Harvest Presbyterian Church and was very grateful for the prayers and support of its members.
Gay was predeceased by her husband, Frederick C. Heitman, her granddaughter, Erin Julia Price, and her son-in-law Kenneth Fisher. She is survived by her children: Frederick R. Heitman (Elaine), Patricia H. Price (Paul), Julia H. Fisher; her grandchildren Graham F. Price and Kathleen H. Underwood (Tyler); and her great-grandchildren Virginia Mae Underwood, Cora Rae Underwood, and George Frederick Underwood.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in memory of Gay to organizations supporting those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. A memorial service will be held at a later time.