Anna Laura Stevenson Heasley, a nurturing and dynamic life force, summited life’s mountain on Friday, February 4, 2022 to dwell eternally amongst the stars.
Born in Clay Township, PA, Anna was the daughter of Samuel Presley Stevenson and Laura Norilda Best Stevenson. Anna was 96 years old and the last surviving sibling of 12 children.
Anna often shared a story about her early life. As a child, her brothers rolled her in an old barrel for fun. Anna cut her hand on the barrel and it became infected. The doctor informed her parents the hand should be amputated. Her mother refused, keeping Anna home from school and applying salve until the hand healed, marking the beginning of Anna’s tenacity to thrive - an immense will to live.
In her youth, Anna enjoyed attending barn dances and listening to music. She was a stylish dresser and loved wearing the most recent hat styles. Anna loved to sing, and was encouraged by her pastor to apply to The Juilliard School in New York City, but her parents would not part with her.
Anna also loved playing cards with her family and was adept at 500 Rummy and Canasta. She often quietly played her card hand with the result being a fabulous last minute run on the cards, soundly defeating others! Anna was an avid Scrabble player and usually played words others challenged but discovered she was right!
Anna married Joseph M. Heasley in November 1942. After an honorable discharge from the Army, Joseph and Anna briefly settled near Coraopolis, PA as Joseph was a mechanic at the Pittsburgh airport. When their family needed help on the farm, Joseph and Anna returned to the Herman area and eventually settled in Butler, PA to raise their family. Anna was an avid baker known for her homemade bread, jams, jellies and sky high lemon meringue pies. The ultimate gift from her was a box of her family favorite peanut butter fudge.
She made the impossible possible. Having lived through the Great Depression and trying times of World War II, she knew the true meaning of resilience. Raising a family with little means at times, Anna had a knack for pulling off magical moments. One Christmas, Anna flew with her children to Key West, FL to celebrate the holiday with her oldest daughter’s family. It was their first time flying! Somehow, she always found a way. Anna gave lasting life lessons, reminding her family, “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me”.
Willing and able to juggle multiple jobs to provide for her family, Anna worked her way up to the role of head cashier at Butler’s Kroger during the 1980’s. Later in life she became a real estate agent. Anna helped her son, Stephen, as he launched a gymnastics school, handling the financial and administrative side of the business for 30+ years.
A stickler for details, she could be a tough cookie. Whether writing an essay, doing math or hanging wall paper, Anna insisted on near perfection. Find the right word in a thesaurus, keep columns straight, match the pattern properly Anna would remind. Her grandchildren remember whether chopping vegetables, touching up a paint job here and there, or decorating the Christmas tree she had high expectations. “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right!” Anna implored.
Her curiosity about the world led her to provide opportunities for her family to explore near and far. “Where in the world would you like to go?”. Anna made that offer to her grandchildren one Christmas and changed their lives for the better. Expeditions to Hawaii, Ireland, Australia, China, Japan, Thailand, Korea, Hong Kong and France ensued. “Make good memories!” Anna always implored. Indeed, many good memories were made.
Anna ventured to Belize in Central America with her daughter Judy to visit a granddaughter. Together they took a boat trip to tropical islands and encountered the rainforest serenaded by howler monkeys. They sipped on coconut drinks while dangling their toes in the sea.
Her desire to share her love of exploration never ceased. At age 83, Anna arranged a trip to Italy for 20 family members. The multigenerational entourage, ranging from 21 months to Anna at 83, vacationed at a villa outside Rome, venturing into the city to tour all of its riches: the Vatican, Saint Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, the Roman Forum, the Trevi Fountain and then on to Florence, Tuscany and the Amalfi coast.
Anna also traveled extensively with her friends, sharing tales of her voyages with her grandchildren, who listened in wonder. On a trip to Egypt she rode a camel near the pyramids and traveled down the Nile. While in Rio de Janeiro, Anna was mesmerized by the glittering carnival festivities and Copacabana Beach. The waiters at her hotel knew to bring extra water to soften their strong coffee. On a cruise to Alaska, she took in the towering, pristine glaciers and spotted Russia from afar.
The thought of criss-crossing the globe could have hardly seemed a dream within reach for a little girl born at a time before telephones, computers, automobiles and air flights were common to every household. Anna ventured to every continent but Antarctica! Reminiscing on her adventures, Anna told her children, “Know that I saw more of this place than I expected to”.
Anna was happiest when in the company of her loved ones, whether on the Mediterranean Sea exploring Italy’s Amalfi Coast or in the cozy ambiance of her living room, where the walls were adorned with family photos. During any gathering, from Christmas Day to impromptu family dinners, Anna could be found in the kitchen cooking for her family or perched in her chair surrounded by her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, beaming with joy as waves of laughter and chit chat undulated back and forth throughout the room. Her life force sparkled in her eyes, and continues to touch all who knew her.
The essence of her existence was in short – to nurture, challenge and expand the lives of those she loved.
Anna was preceded in death by 2 sons, Joseph Howard Heasley and William Clement Heasley, her husband, Joseph M. Heasley, her 11 brothers and sisters and her parents.
Anna is survived by her children:
Judith A. Chenot, Stephen F. Heasley (Jeanne), Billie G. Heasley-Blostein (Michael), Kathryn J. Hilderhoff (Daniel), Michael T. Heasley (Valerie), Laurie J. Coyne, Staciellen S. Mischel (Robert); 12 cherished grandchildren: Cherie, Heather, Stephen, Denise, Holly, Michelle, Matthew, Daniel, Phillip, Amber, Natalie and Amanda; and 13 adored great grandchildren: Nathaniel, Ty, Gianna, Alyssandra, Isaac, Owen, Luca, Tiago, Sophia, Jaxon, Kenley, Charlie and Chase; numerous nieces and nephews.
Anna’s family would like to thank the village that loved, cared and supported her throughout the final stages of life’s journey: Dr. Timothy Wong and staff, Dr. Kim Pierce, Patty, Sue, Marcia, Marlena, Kim, Erica, Peggy, Dottie, Karen, Tara, Renee and many others. Your guidance, warmth and generosity of time will always be felt and remembered.
Friends will be received at the Geibel Funeral Home, 201 East Cunningham Street, Butler, from 4:00 pm until 7:00 pm on Wednesday. Private Services and Burial will be held for her family.
Her family requests that a masks be worn by people attending the viewing.