October 29, 1920 — December 6, 2018
Marijane Heintzelman died December 6 in Junction City with her daughter, April, by her side. She was 98 years old.
Born in 1920 in Yakima, Washington to Mattias and Anna Bell Harkema, she grew up near the town of Zillah, Washington, on a small apple and pear orchard. She graduated Zillah High with honors in 1938, then went on to Central Washington College in Ellensburg where she earned her Bachelor of Arts and teaching degree. It was there she met her first husband, Richard Highsmith Jr., whom she married in 1942 after teaching first grade on Bainbridge Island for a year. She continued teaching while Richard fought in the South Pacific as a Marine officer, earning a Silver Star for valor. After the war, they moved to Corvallis where Richard, now with his PhD, would begin teaching Geography at OSU while Marijane’s focus turned to raising a family.
Once the youngest of their five children was in school, Marijane returned to the academic world, earning her Master of Science in Counseling and guidance at OSU.
She taught elementary school in Eugene for three years before divorcing Richard in 1967 and returning to Corvallis. Back in Corvallis she settled into a 17 year stretch teaching second and third grades at Harding, team teaching with lifelong friend, Aileen Hanson.
In 1969, Marijane married O.H. Heintzelman, a cultural geography professor at OSU and all-around bon vivant who courted her with surreptitious love notes disguised as letters to the editor, written in code, and published in the editorial pages of this newspaper. In addition to making their home east of Corvallis, they traveled extensively in southern Europe and kept busy entertaining at home in a salon type atmosphere with the glitterati of Corvallis featuring good cheer, heady discussion and gourmet cooking.
Marijane loved gardening, needlework, reading and curating a vast family archive of photo journals. She was an accomplished pianist and had a lovely singing voice. After Oliver’s passing in 1986, she grandly assumed the mantle of matriarch and, as the linchpin of her large family, kept it together with boisterous gatherings, continuing to fill the big house on East Terra long after most of the kids had moved on and begun families of their own. The traditional gathering on the Saturday before Christmas was especially magical: a large, highly anticipated and multigenerational revel with great food, drinks, games, gifts, music and singing well into the night.
Marijane was also civic-minded. She served several years on the board of Good Samaritan Hospital Auxiliary, was active in PEO and hosted tours of the Governor’s mansion during the Goldschmidt years. She was also a devoted fan and supporter of her beloved OSU Beavers.
Marijane left a note:
“My lovely children — You are the ones I love and you have all given me much happiness and love. I have been a richly blessed mother.” Attached to this note is the poem by Isla Richardson, To Those I Love:
"If I should ever leave you whom I love To go along the Silent Way, grieve not Nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk Of me as if I were beside you there.
"(I’d come — I’d come, could I but find a way! But would not tears and grief Be barriers?)
"And when you hear a song or see a bird I loved, please do not let the thought of me
"Be sad … For I am loving you just as I always have … you were so good to me!
"There are so many things I wanted still To do — so many things to say to you…
"Remember that I did not fear … it was Just leaving you that was so hard to face …
"We cannot see Beyond … but this I know: I loved you so — 'twas heaven here with you!"
Marijane is survived by daughters, Brooke Highsmith of Redmond, Nan Copeland of Albany and April Mitchell of Junction City; along with 11 grandchildren; and 16 great-grandchildren.
She is preceded in death by brother, Robert Harkema; daughter, Jill Kelly; son, Rick Highsmith; and granddaughter, Kerin Kelly. She outlived her two husbands as well, Richard Highsmith and Oliver Heintzelman.
She lived a long, rich, healthy and adventurous life and will be both missed and fondly remembered by all who had the good fortune to know and love her.
Her family is planning a remembrance and celebration of life at the end of May when the peonies are in bloom. Friends and family welcome, please contact April for details. 541-998-1232.
Memorials may be made to the Humane Society.