Robert R. Heaton

April 1, 1929 ~ January 2, 2021

 

 

Local businessman, Robert R. Heaton, 91 passed away on Saturday, January 2, 2021 at his residence in Butler, PA.

He was born in Butler, PA on April 1, 1929 he was the son of the late Ralph B. Heaton and Mary E. Ritter Heaton.

The epitome of his successful life was in his ability to donate $1 Million to the Butler County Community College for the renovation of the Beck Library, subsequently renamed as the Heaton Family Learning Center. Bob exemplified the term “self-made man”. From humble beginnings on Butler’s south side, he valued education and hard work as the path to success. Growing up in the Great Depression, he began working at age 11, helping out at the Zellsman Motor Company, a Studebaker dealership.


While in high school he and his friends embraced the patriotism of World War II by lying about their age in order to work Victory Shift after school each night from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the former Bantam Car Company, helping to assemble trailers for military Jeeps or also helping build amphibious landing crafts.
At the conclusion of the war, Bob went to work at Benson’s Men’s Wear on Main Street. It was there that he met Marion McGinnis of West Sunbury, the daughter of a customer, and eventually they married in 1951. In their 52-year marriage they would share a love of travel and history as they explored their own country and abroad.


Having graduated from Butler High School a half-year early in 1947, he originally aspired to study medicine and become a doctor. Bob knew that he would have to pay for his own education, his parents being unable to afford to help him and scholarships being essentially nonexistent in those days. He adjusted his goals and entered what is now Case Western Reserve to study mortuary science. He worked part-time at a funeral home near the school to help cover the cost of his classes. He graduated in1950.


Bob and Marion moved to Ridgway, PA so that Bob could apprentice at the Gallup Funeral Home. While there, their daughter Leanne was born. Within two years they returned to Butler when he accepted a position at the then Thompson Funeral Home. He worked for that establishment for 42 years.
Following retirement from funeral service Bob applied his knowledge of business and investing to a new interest by becoming a real estate developer. Establishing RHGL Inc with his friend and partner, Glenn R. Logan, former owner of Logan Candy Company. Together they were responsible for housing developments at Avon Drive, Meridian Highlands, Stirling Village, Camelot Woods and Shady Lane Farms as well as numerous individual homes in the area.
Bob was blessed in life by the love of three women. Marion McGinnis Heaton, his wife of 52 years died in 2003, MaryAnn McGuirk Zeigler, shared his affections until her death in 2011 and Martha Jane Keller Keasey who was his companion until her death in 2015. Each brought light and joy to his life.


Bob was a faithful member of Trinity Presbyterian Church and subsequently Covenant Presbyterian Church. He was an ordained Elder and Trustee as well as serving on the Ministerial Relations Board of the Beaver-Butler Presbytery. When in residence in Florida he attended the Vanderbilt Presbyterian Church.


Always active in business, social, civic and political groups, Bob was a Past-President of the Western Pennsylvania Funeral Directors and remained a member-emeritus of their Board of Directors. He was a member of the Butler/Victory Lodge #272 F&A. M,, Syria Shrine of Pittsburgh, Past President of Butler Shrine Caravan 14, past Treasurer of Butler Kiwanis, a continuing member of the Odd Fellows and an enthusiastic member of the Shrine Luncheon Clubs of Butler and of Marco Island, FL.


He served as a member of the Northwest Sanitary Sewer Authority, a member of the Civil Service Commission, and served terms as Republican Committeeman of Butler. He was honored as the Distinguished Citizen of Butler County by the Moraine Council of Boy Scouts and was one of three finalists for the Butler High School Distinguished Graduate Award in 2018.


Bob loved cars, owning an assortment of antique and classic automobiles over the years which he restored himself and took great joy in driving in shows and parades. He was a member of the Butler Old Stone House Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America, the Mercedes Benz Club of Pittsburgh and the Mercedes Benz Club of Naples. He was very proud of the 1955 Thunderbird that he bought new, keeping it for the rest of his life and of being member number 12 of the then newly formed Classic Thunderbird Club International. He became one of the first local owners of a Tesla S car enjoying its beautiful, innovative technology.


Following the death of his business partner, Bob administered the Glenn R. Logan Scholarship Trust for Butler High School and the Glenn R. Logan and Rhea Jean McCandless Logan Family Trust. He was also named a trustee of the J. Robert and Alberta C Rodgers Memorial Trust of Slippery Rock following the demise of his dear friend Evelyn Rodgers.


In latter years Bob was limited by physical problems but continued to enjoy meeting friends for meals, talking to his buddies on the phone and sharing jokes and news via the internet.

He is survived by his daughter Leanne Heaton and his nephews David (Gay) Travaglio, Kevin (Margie) Travaglio, Brad (Judy) Vinroe, Carl Vinroe, Robert Vinroe, and Richard (Joyce) Vinroe as well as their families.

Bob was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Anna Margaret Heaton Vinroe, his beloved wife Marion, his loving companions, MaryAnn Zeigler and Martha Jane Keasey and his nephew, Dennis Travaglio.

There will be no public visitation.

A Memorial Service will be held at a later date.

Private entombment will take place in the Chapel of Devotion Mausoleum at Butler County Memorial Park.

Memorials donations may be made to the Shriner's Hospital Fund, Covenant Presbyterian Church of Butler, Butler County Symphony Association or Butler County Community College.

Deep gratitude is extended to all family, friends and business associates who enriched his life, you were his greatest wealth.

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