Age 85, of Stillwater, passed away peacefully on January 20, 2021 after testing positive for Covid-19.
Preceded in death by husband Edward; parents William and Marie Heifort; sister Kay Heifort; brothers Henry and Allen Heifort. Survived by daughter Janet Strugala (Anthony Ketcham); son William (Billy) Strugala; brother Kenneth (Geraldine) Heifort; nieces, nephews, loving relatives and friends.
She was a native of Stillwater, born and bred. She loved Stillwater like Scarlett loved Tara. She took vacations so she could house clean. She loved to garden - how many different kinds of hostas does one need anyway? And she would decorate the yard with pretty things - bling for the birds to poop on. Feeding the birds and other critters also went along with the beautification of the yard - hummingbirds, bluebirds and woodpeckers are beautiful - possums, I guess, are in the eye of the beholder. Good food for all who came to visit Ma’s backyard!
She also loved her kids, Billy, Janet and Anthony; her husband, Ed; her many dogs, and her career being a RN at Lakeview Memorial Hospital; although, not necessarily in this order.
Sidenote on Anthony: Anthony, who she called her son-in-law, even though Janet and Anthony were not married. At times, it was believed Anthony, or Ant’ney as she called him, was her favorite child.
She adored all of the dogs that came into our lives through out the years and many knew of her stories of ‘dog-spoiling’ - meat on the grill for supper, shared food from the table, “Wanna go for a ride?!?” to Dairy Queen for dessert, shared bed at night…the list goes on. I believe that all of her dogs, and a few special kitties, were all of them there at the Rainbow Bridge waiting for her.
When she retired she enjoyed taking ‘road trips’ with my dad (the driver), and maybe with a dog or two. Usually these trips were quite the adventures for human and dog alike. Like the time when Tasha, one of their beloved standard poodles, who was with them when they were in Colorado driving through the Rocky Mountains, and Tasha needed to “go outside” and she peed at 10,000 feet! Now I’m not sure how Tasha really felt about the 10,000 feet thing, but my mom and I always thought it was pretty cool - I mean, how many dogs get to pee at 10,000 feet?
Exceedingly loyal, she stuck by the people and things that mattered to her. She also could be fiercely protective for the underdog. She was like a second mom, albeit much stricter, to a number of individuals over the years. And, speaking of strict moms - some may call it ‘tough love’, nobody knew this better than my brother, Billy. I am certain a few of you, over the years, have heard my mom tell at least one “Billy Story”, or two, or twenty, or fifty. What I believe is this, her tough love evolved into unconditional love for Billy, and this, for my mom and for Billy, like many things in life, was a work-in-progress; however, my mom’s instinct to protect Billy never left her.
There they were… the two of them, heads together, muffled talking. Carolyn (not Caroline - she went by Carolyn at work) and Betty… they called them ‘The Bookends’ - small, but strong, they were forces to be reckoned with. Both of them head nurses from different nursing stations at Lakeview Memorial Hospital, and they were best good friends and sometimes accomplices. What were they doing? Plotting world domination? Nope! Just discussing nurse stuff.
My mom loved her job and the challenges that went along with it. She loved her patients the most. When she became a leader she ran a tight ship - ask anyone who was there. She was highly competent, respected by many, maybe feared by a few… quick-witted, opinionated, teacher, mentor - her approach may have been a bit rough around the edges; but, the outcomes were impactful in meaningful ways and changed the course of some lives in positive ways. If you didn’t want to heed her advice you could trust that you always knew where you stood with her, and as a bonus you might get her finger wagging to go along with any scolding. Oh, my…
It has been told to me by many people over the years, “Your mom is/was the best nurse!” or “I learned so much about being a nurse from your mom.”… this gives me such a warm feeling that she touched so many lives like that. I know she loved being a nurse, you could tell… She was great at it!
Those who knew her, knew her well. She will be missed.
Private interment Fort Snelling National Cemetery.
Memorials preferred to Lakeview Hospice or Animal Humane Society.
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