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Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Sue Ann Heikes would agree that no one met her and left unchanged. She lived life with others in mind and lived to nurture and care for those in need of some tender loving care. With a special place in her heart for all children, Sue has been called a “collector of kids” as they were naturally drawn to magnetic personality. She worked hard in everything she did, yet she also took the time to enjoy life along the way. Never one to be concerned with building wealth, Sue was all about helping others in ways both great and small. Gracious, genuine, and compassionate, Sue will be deeply missed but never forgotten.
During the first half of the 1940s, the eyes of the nation were focused overseas after WWII arrived on our doorstep with the vicious attack on our naval base in Pearl Harbor. President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war the next day, and with that countless young men and women were sent overseas to fight for the preservation of the freedoms we still enjoy today. Those who remained stateside became all too familiar with rationing on common goods such as coffee, rubber, paper, and sugar while victory gardens were planted to lessen the demand on the nation’s food supply. Amidst this eventful time was the year 1943 when Ellis and Gladys (Washburn) Lux were eagerly anticipating the birth of their new baby as winter began to appear on the horizon in Union City, Michigan. The big day finally arrived on November 21st when the baby girl they named Sue Ann drew her first breath. She was the middle of seven children and was raised in the family home alongside her older siblings, Doreatha, Leo, and Wanda, and her younger siblings, Dorla, Mary, and Mike.
In many ways, Sue was a young girl of her generation. Her parents were both farmers, and her father helped as a bus driver. Sue’s mother cared for people in their home prior to in-home care becoming a trend. Sue attended local schools including Union City High School, graduating in the early sixties.
Not to be forgotten during her years as a young woman was Sue’s introduction to the man of her dreams. His name was Kenneth Heikes, and they met on a blind date at a Union City football game. It was always the family joke that Sue claimed Ken only dated her so that he could go fishing with her dad! Since their relationship spanned more than 50 years, however, this clearly wasn’t the case! After dating for a time, they found themselves deeply in love. With a desire to establish a life together, Sue and Ken were married on June 17, 1961.
It was easy to see that Sue was a natural nurturer. Over a period of time spanning from 1969 through 1986, they welcomed a total of 42 foster kids into their hearts and home. In addition, they raised four children, too, including Leroy, Burt, Michelle, and Tim. She was also the neighborhood mom as everyone wanted to be at their house. In fact, Sue has been described as someone who collected kids since everyone called her mom. During the years when their kids were young, they enjoyed camping as a family, although home was always Sue’s favorite place to be. Her family appreciated her cooking skills and although they may not have been have been as good as her mother’s, it has been said that she could cook anything and that no one ever left her table hungry. Ken was also quick to say that her cooking always hit his belly! Christmas was Sue’s favorite time every year, and once grandchildren arrived, it was even better since it was a time for everyone to come all together. Sue deeply loved her grandchildren - and it showed!
In addition to caring for her family, Sue kept busy in other ways as well. She earned her LPN degree from Kalamazoo Valley Community College in 1975 and then spent several years in the healthcare industry. Initially, Sue found work at Oshtemo Care Center. She later worked at Bronson and retired from Vicksburg. However, she did keep working at Greater Kalamazoo Hospice and later worked at Sherman Service when her husband bought the business in the eighties. Sue was nominated as an honorary Boy Scout leader because of all the years that Ken devoted his time and talents to the program as a leader. Her own hobbies included knitting, swimming, and fishing, and she loved bright colors and disco music.
It was clear that Sue Heikes had a heart of gold. She was passionate, understanding, and full of unconditional love for all who were near. Sue was a devoted wife and mother, but she just may have argued that nothing was better than becoming a grandmother. Her beauty, her grace, and her tender touch will never be forgotten.
Sue Ann Heikes, of Vicksburg died on Sunday, September 6, 2015. Sue’s family includes her husband, Ken; three children: Leroy (Lisa) Heikes, of Plainwell; Burt (Noreen) Heikes, of Vicksburg; Michelle (Jason) Hall, of Paw Paw; 11 grandchildren: Kristen, Cassandra, Courtney, Elizabeth, Allison, Miah, William, Justin, Brandon, Caleb, Micheal; two great grandchildren: Carter and Mason; three sisters: Doreatha Pease, of Scotts; Dorla (Hurlon) Nowakowski, of Scotts; and Mary (Tom) Lawrence, of Battle Creek; brother: Mike (Sharon) Lux, of TN; and many nieces and nephews. Sue was preceded in death by her parents; son: Timothy Heikes; brother: Leo Lux; and sister: Wanda Pease. Sue’s family will receive friends on Thursday from 5-8 p.m. at the Vicksburg United Methodist Church. A memorial service will be held on Friday at 11 a.m. at the church. Please visit Sue’s webpage at www.lifestorynet.com where you can sign the guestbook and share a memory and/or photo. Those who wish may make a contribution to Grace Hospice.