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William B. "Bill" Heeter, 91, of Rockland, died surrounded by his loving family on Friday afternoon, April 6, 2018 at Oakwood Heights in Oil City, following a period of declining health.
He was born in West Home near Emlenton on March 17, 1927 to the late William and Ruth (Webster) Heeter. His parents died while he was young and Bill was raised by his uncle and aunt, Denton and Cleora Shaffer.
Bill graduated from Emlenton High School in 1945 and soon after enlisted in the U.S. Army Signal Corps and served during World War II and the Occupation of Japan.
He was a longtime member of the Nickleville Presbyterian Church.
Bill enjoyed gardening and his flowerbeds, cooking and baking (especially rhubarb pie), traveling, and spending time on his farm tractors and mowers. He also enjoyed serving as the general contractor during the building of his childrens’ homes. For many years, he and his wife spent the winter months in Lakeland, Florida. More recently, he enjoyed following the stock market and became quite adept at this.
Mr. Heeter farmed during the earlier part of his working life. He was the first in the area to use the pipeline milking process. In 1963, he received the Pennsylvania Outstanding Young Farmer of the Year award. A few years later, the Heeter family was named Pennsylvania Farm Family of the year. In 1973, he began working for Joy Manufacturing in Franklin in the set-up assembly department until a workplace injury occurred. Later, along with four of his children, he owned and operated Deer Meadow Campground in Cook Forest.
Bill loved spending time with his family, whether it was enjoying one of his home-cooked meals or playing a game of dominoes. No matter family, friend, or stranger, no one could have a conversation with Bill and come away without a smile on his face. Bill had a unique way of expressing his opinions that endeared him to many. He and Allene enjoyed traveling and visiting many National Parks. They also joined other family members on annual vacations.
He was married in Clarion on April 27, 1946 to the former Allene Mabel Wilson, who survives. They would have celebrated 72 years of marriage later this month.
Also surviving are five children: Sandra Shaffer, Cheryl Buchanan and her husband Kenneth, all of Rockland, William Heeter and his wife Karen, of Boiling Springs, Bonnie Sottiaux and her husband James, and Jeffrey Heeter and his wife Nancy, all of Rockland; twelve grandchildren: Jonathan and Jason Shaffer, Jamie White, Christopher, Chad, and Tyler Buchanan, William Heeter, Michelle Sottiaux, Sara Black, Holly Sottiaux, Jared Heeter, and Emily Webb. Twenty great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandchild, numerous nieces and nephews, and his sister-in-law, Barbara Wilson of Farrell also survive. His beloved cat, Smokey, also survives.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his siblings: Dorothy Switzer, Beatrice Shaffer, Eleanor Hitchcock, Jack Heeter, June Bump, Wayne Heeter, and an infant sister. A son-in-law, Ronald Shaffer, also predeceased.
Friends and family will be received in the Hile-Best Funeral Home, 2781 Rte. 257 in Seneca, Cranberry Township on Thursday (April 12) from 6 - 8 p.m. and Friday (April 13) from 2 - 4 and 6 - 8 p.m. A funeral service will be held Saturday (April 14) at 10 a.m. in the Nickleville Presbyterian Church, with Rev. Dr. Darrell Knopp, pastor, officiating. The V.E.T.S. Honor Guard will accord full military honors preceding the service. Interment will be in Sunset Hill Memorial Gardens.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Rockland Volunteer Fire Dept., 995 Pittsville Rd., Kennerdell, PA 16374; Asera Care Hospice, 1600 Peninsula Dr. Suite 14, Erie, PA 16505; or to Nickleville Presbyterian Church, 169 Valley Church Road, Emlenton, PA 16373.
To express online condolences to the Heeter family, visit www.hilebest.com