Lewis and Mary were married November 20, 1937 and sealed in the Mesa Arizona Temple the following May 7th. They were together for over 53 years. In today’s world, that in and of itself is a stunning achievement! For nearly thirty years, they worked hard raising four boys and one girl – Lewis Delbert, Jr., Mary Lou, Ben, myself [Duane], and Richard.
Mary and Lewis’ life together took them to many different locations in the West: Los Angeles, Pocatello, [and Twin Falls] Idaho, Salt Lake City, Utah, Chester, Westwood, Fair Oaks, Citrus Heights, North Sacramento, Walnut Grove, and Wheatland, California.
If you were to ask me what my father’s occupation or job was, I’d have to say he was a totally dedicated and reliable "employee" of Mormonism. Honestly, his work in the Mormon Church was his real occupation. The various jobs held throughout his life - manager of an ice cream store, Greyhound bus driver, logger, truck driver, owner of a grocery store were not an end for him, they were a means to a greater end. These jobs provided a comfortable living for his wife and family and it allowed him to do his "real" work – his work in the Mormon Church. It was this work that gave him so much happiness and fulfillment. It was to this work that he gave 110% of himself.
Dad was called to many positions in the church. Here are some of them: Executive Secretary to the Bishop in three different Wards; in the Bishopric of two Wards; Sunday School President twice; President of the Seventies Quorum in two Stakes; President of the High Priests Quorum; completed three Stake missions; and temple ordinance worker at the Oakland Temple for over 17 years.
Each of us here today have had our lives touched by this wonderful man – I certainly have. But, he is not dead, he lives on in each of us. He has cast off the well-worn body God gave him and has moved on to the next stage.
I pray that as we reflect on his life – today and in the future – we find qualities or examples from those moments and experiences with him and we build them into our own lives. That is how we can honor him and express our love for him.
From my own personal perspective, there are two qualities I admire most in my father, his unwavering devotion to God’s higher principles of living as he saw them in the gospel of the Mormon Church; and his amazing courage to stand up and take action on what he believed. I pray I can reflect these same qualities in my own life with the same love and dedication he had.
As I grew up in the church, we were always encouraged to study and learn about the teachings of the different religions in the world. Last fall, my wife and I had the opportunity to travel in Italy and visit many historical sites important to the life and work of Jesus Christ. We spent several days in Assisi – the home of Francis of Assisi. Francis was a truly remarkable person whose unwavering love and devotion to Jesus Christ reminds me so much of my father. This prayer, written by Francis, seems to echo Dad’s own sentiments regarding his own work for God and seems so appropriate as a way to remember him. The prayer is called, "A Simple Prayer."
A Simple Prayer
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred. . .let me sow love.
Where there is injury. . .pardon.
Where there is discord. . .unity.
Where there is doubt. . .faith.
Where there is despair. . .hope.
Where there is sadness. . .joy.
Where there is darkness. . .light.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled. . .as to console.
To be understood. . .as to understand.
To be loved. . .as to love.
It is in giving. . .that we receive.
It is in pardoning. . .that we are pardoned,
It is in dying. . .that we are born to Eternal Life.–
* * * * * *
A Tribute to Lewis and Mary Heaps
[One of the California Ward’s gave a night of tribute
to Lewis and Mary.
I am sorry that I do not know the date or the Ward.]
About 45 years ago Mary Richins had decided she had milked the cow for the last time and refused to do it again. Knowing that the cow would not go along with this, Mary went over to her brother-in-law’s home to see if he would do the chore. Now it so happened that a freshly returned missionary by the name of Lewis Heaps was visiting and he and Mary were introduced. Their courtship got off to a slow start but about eight months later, they realized they were meant for each other. So, on 20 November 1937, Mary and Lou were wed in Los Angeles, California. In the following spring on 7 May 1938 they were sealed for time and all eternity in the Mesa Arizona Temple. They have had over 43 years under the covenant of a temple marriage.
The Heaps have been blessed with four boys and one girl. One son fulfilled a mission and four have been married in the temple. They presently have 19 ½ grand children.
Speaking of missions – Lou has completed one full time mission to the Western States and three stake missions. Throughout their lives they have been devoted and diligent in serving the Lord. Lou has been a High Priest group leader in a couple of wards. He has also been a counselor in the bishopric of the Fair Oaks Ward in Sacramento and for seven years he held a position known then as High Priest Quorum President.
Lou could be called a "Jack of Many Trades" as he has had many opportunities come his way. When the Heaps were just starting their married life together they managed an ice cream store in Twin Falls, Idaho. Then an opportunity came to drive for Greyhound Bus Company. For four years the "driving was left to Lou." And he likes it that way even today. Mary says, "Louie loves to drive - he will drive any chance he can get."
From there [Twin Falls] they moved to Salt Lake City where Lou drove a gas transport rig for about five years. On one occasion, while Lou was driving down a very steep grade his brakes failed. He was just ready to jump out when he suddenly found a long flat piece of land off the side of the road and he was able to maneuver the rig to safety. This was just one of many times the Lord has watched over Lou and his family.
From Salt Lake the Heaps moved to Chester, California where Lou worked in a meat market and later a lumber mill. Then the Heaps moved to Sacramento and for the next 19 ½ years Lou was a representative for Crystal Cream and Butter Company. For seven years following that Lou served as Maintenance Engineer for the Mormon Center and the Lincoln Ward until his retirement.
Lou has been a temple ordinance worker for the past ten years. Since his retirement he promised the Lord he would work in the temple at least twice a week which he has faithfully done. For each temple visit he leaves his home about 2:30 A.M. to be there in time for his duties.
Mary has not been standing still all these years either. She has been a telephone operator, grocery store manager, and most important, a loving wife and mother to Louie and their five children. She has served as Relief Society Counselor and teacher in both MIA and Primary. She also served as YWMIA President for several years.
Lou and Mary have always striven to be good examples to their children and countless times they have been blessed. For example: One time the Heaps were on their way to the ward dance in Chester that was 13 miles away. An unexpected snow storm hit, forcing them to try and return home. At one point in the highway called, "Deadman’s Curve," they had to go out around a stalled snow plow. When they finally returned home they found their children all sitting wide-eyed on the sofa. They, sensing the danger their parents were in, knelt in prayer asking for their parents safe return. To this day the family does not know how they made it around that curve. "There just wasn’t any more road there," said Sister Heaps. "We know it was the children’s prayers that helped us get home that night."
When you call the Heaps home, you may be greeted with, "You’re in a Heap of trouble now."
It would be impossible to imagine how many lives the Heaps have touched for the good during these past 44 years of marriage. We appreciate the Heaps for allowing us to honor them this special night and sharing with us a glimpse of their very active and productive life together. We love and admire you Lewis and Mary Heaps.
* * * * * *
Claudia L. Blackmer/Freeman Vance
May I express my love and appreciation for Uncle Lewis and Aunt Mary. Uncle Lewis was the main moving force behind the conception and continuation of the Benjamin Franklin and Ann Eva Dittmore Heaps Family Organization and Reunions. His undying love for the gospel of Jesus Christ, his family and extended family has enriched my life.
It was his saying, "Heaps of Love" that always brought a smile and a feeling of well-being into my heart. It was his strong desire that we never cease to love one another and never cease to strengthen each other.
We have not been a family to write letters, but, we have always rallied together whenever any of us were in "a Heap of trouble!" We have gathered in times of laughter, as well as tears, and we have all basked and been healed by our "Heaps of Love!"
* * * * * *
Eulogy to Mary Emily Richins Heaps
Saturday, March 24, 2001
By Her Son Duane Heaps
A eulogy is defined as a formal speech or writing praising a person who has just died.
So, I’d like to begin this eulogy by asking each of you to look around this chapel this morning and look at all the beautiful faces and souls sitting here today. As you do that, I’d like you to note that nearly all of the faces we see here today are those of the five children, four daughter’s in-law, twenty-five grandchildren – their husbands, wives, and friends, and forty-four (almost forty-five) great grandchildren of Mary Emily Richins Heaps and Lewis D. Heaps, Sr.
Given the definition of a eulogy, I think all the beautiful spirits – those related by blood and those related by friendship – gathered here today are a eulogy to mother. Each of us are living, walking praise to her character, to her love and to her legacy. Many of us are here today solely because she gave birth to five children. Many of us are here because she loved our father, Lewis Delbert Heaps, Sr. and because she wanted to be a mother...because she cared and was willing to make sacrifices and work very hard.
Just think about it for a moment! This one person has had such an impact on so many, many lives. Look what she has made possible. It is amazing! We are here to honor and celebrate her accomplishments – those accomplishments are each of us! Now some of you may believe that blame rather than praise may be in order – especially if you look too closely at my life – or if you talk to my wife on the wrong day – but we won’t go there.
Seriously, I’m not trying to get out of my responsibility of delivering a eulogy this morning, but I am in a very real way, trying to make a point. And that point is: the many beautiful souls sitting in this room who have been touched by mother is really all the praise necessary – we are her praise. We carry her love and legacy on into future generations. Now, having said that. . .I’ll get on with what is expected of me.
Mary Emily Richins Heaps was born on March 3, 1915, to Alice Jackson Richins and Jesse Willmott Richins. She was the seventh of nine children. By today’s standards, she had a very different and fascinating early childhood and adulthood. At the risk of boring you, I’d like to share some of the highlights of her life.
Mother was born in a two-room, log house her father built in Hazel, Idaho – just north of Oakley, Idaho. Hazel and Oakley are small farming and ranching communities near the Southern Idaho/Northern Utah border. Just to give you an idea of the size of Oakley, in 1996 Oakley had a population of 694 – and that’s 38 more than lived there twenty-six years earlier – in 1970. Given that rate of growth, I would estimate that the population of Oakley was fewer than a hundred people in 1915 when mother was born. There were nine children in mother’s family – seven sisters and one brother: LaPreal, Vera, Agnes, Leola, Jesse, Zelpha, Nedra, and Beverly.
An interesting footnote: five of her siblings were born in Colonial Diaz, Mexico - a community of Mormons established primarily to continue the practice of polygamy which had been outlawed by the United States government. Mother’s grandfathers had two or three wives. Her father, Jesse, Sr., was apparently less ambitious – in terms of marriage – and was satisfied to have just one wife. Plus, having moved back to the United States, polygamy was prohibited. Mother’s youngest sister, Beverly, lives in the State of Washington and is now the only surviving child of the J. W. Richins, Sr. family.
Mother was born into a family of very modest means. It was a family that valued hard work, personal responsibility and, to the best of their ability, lived in accordance with the Christian teachings of the Mormon Church. In the early years following their return from Mexico, they lived off the land – relying on the bounty of a large garden and a small number of livestock. Her father worked in various jobs. We know he was a labor agent for the Amalgamated Sugar Company and was a sales representative for the Beneficial Life Insurance Company. Her mother, Alice, was a homemaker.
In the early 1920's, her father Jesse, was called by the Church leaders to be President of the Twin Falls, Idaho Stake. During the years he served as President, they entertained many of the Church’s General Authorities. Mother spoke fondly of these special visits – they were a point of pride for her. She had the privilege of helping her mother prepare and serve meals to the religious leaders of the Church.
As you would imagine, it took much hard work to keep the Richins household running smoothly. Since her family was made up of eight girls and one boy, the common practice in those days of assigning chores along stereotypical gender lines was simply not an option. In her family, there was no such thing as "boy’s work" and "girl’s work." The girls were expected to work hard and do any and all chores. To be honest, I have the impression that the girls may have worked harder than their brother, Jesse, Jr. did – the only boy in the family. According to the stories mother told me, Uncle Jess had achieved a status somewhat equivalent to that of a "crown prince" who was spoiled and fawned over by his sisters and sometimes even his parents. Just a few of mother’s chores were working in the garden and milking the cow. Now keep this cow-milking chore fresh in your mind – it is a very important part of the Heaps’ family heritage.
Mother graduated from Twin Falls High School in the early 30's. She worked outside the house and helped her mother in the home. Like most women of the time, she was very eager to get married and start her own life and family. Plus, she was getting very tired of milking the cow every day. Now if I were to describe mother as being a strong minded, strong willed, and occasionally a strongly opinionated person – would anyone in this chapel today disagree with me? I didn’t think anyone would. So this next event will not come as a surprise to anyone.
When Mom was 21 years old she made up her mind that she had milked the old family cow for the last time. She wanted nothing more to do with the cow – she apparently refused to milk it again. She was no dummy, she knew that both her parents and the cow would not look favorably on her decision, so she went over to her sister’s house to see if she could talk her brother-in-law, Jack Fredrickson, into doing her daily chore.
Now, I cannot report that she was successful with the cow milking scheme, but I can tell you that she was successful with something more important to her – that was the day she met her future husband – Lewis Delbert Heaps. Lewis had just freshly returned from being on a mission (which for a young, Mormon woman, meant he was a splendid candidate for marriage) and he just happened to be visiting his companion in the mission field – Jack Fredrickson. And as they say in the movies. . .the rest of the story is history.
Eight months after this fateful day, Mary and Lewis were married on 20 November 1937 in Los Angeles, California. The following spring, they were married in the Mesa Temple in Arizona. It was a marriage that would last for over 50 years and would endure trials and hardships, as well as, create joy and happiness for Mary and Lewis and their friends. It was a marriage that would produce five children – four boys and a girl: Lewis, Jr., Mary Lou, Benjamin, Richard and me. The trial aspect of their marriage I just mentioned, I think we were that part!
So, it all started with a cow and our mother not wanting to milk it. We all owe a debt of gratitude to that cow!
During her lifetime, in addition to being a full-time homemaker, Mother worked at various jobs: from telephone operator to managing a grocery store to working in retail sales. She also held various positions in the Church – in Relief Society, Primary, and Sunday School. Her enduring faith and testimony in the teachings of the Mormon Church [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints] have guided, and nourished her over the 86 years of her life.
In closing, I’d like to share with you a letter written to mother from her father and mother when she was 20 years old. It was written at Christmas time. It captures the loving relationship she had with her parents as well as some of the wonderful qualities mother possessed and hopefully passed on to us.
The letter reads:
"Daughter Dear Mary,
Tonight, as the year draws to a close and the Yuletide season is here with its spirit of good will toward all. Our thoughts are inclined to drift back to the time, a few years ago, when you came to our home while we were living in the old log house in Oakley. Your coming brought joy to our hearts as well as comfort to our home. As the years passed and you grew and developed into girlhood and then into young womanhood with your cheerfulness and obedience and unselfishness, our joy increased. And now that you are still pleased to remain with us and assist – both with your fine disposition and willingness to assist in the home life – we are happy in the knowledge that you have never done anything to offend or cause us sorrow. And so at this time we wish for you all the joy and happiness the Lord may have in store for you. Trusting that in the proper time you may have a home of your own where you can enjoy life in its fullness.
May peace and contentment ever attend you through the coming year and years.
Following years of health challenges and six months of being bed-ridden and echoing her father’s words from over 65 years earlier, I truly know that "peace and contentment" are attending mother now. And to echo her father’s words, mother certainly brought "joy to our hearts and comfort to our lives and homes" in ways we will always remember. Thank you mother so much for all the love and goodness you gave all of us. Thank you for making our lives possible.
Delivered on Saturday March 24, 2001