Robert Nicholas (Nick) Heath passed away February 22, 2021, in Commerce, Texas. He was born October 1, 1939 in Lansford , North Dakota to Leslie Robert Heath and Mary Oline (Ordahl) Heath. He leaves his sister , Merry Jean Estrem (David), Carlsborg, Washington, and brothers John Leslie Heath (Marilyn), Commerce, Texas and Brian Charles Heath (Sylvia), Blaine, Minnesota.. nieces Erin Lynn Heath (Dan Wagner), Montrose, Minnesota, Sarah Kankelberg(Rob), Washougal, Washington, Susan Johnson(Alan), Seattle, Washington, and nephews Tom Estrem(Christina), Cottontown, TN, John Paul Heath (Lisa), Lufkin, Texas, grand nephew Aiden James Heath, Plano, Texas, and many other cousins and grand nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and nephews Collin Brian Heath and Alexander James Heath.
He attended Lansford School grades 1-6 in a class of 15 alongside his brother, then left school and helped on the farm. The farm had various crops and animals, and also planted 20 acres of potatoes every year. His specialty was helping with the picking, hauling, grading, sacking, and helping get them to market. He especially liked visiting with customers and taking them to the potato "pit" and rolling 50 and 100 pound bags of potatoes up the hill and getting the money from customers, which Dad let him keep, sometimes.
He was fortunate growing up in the small town where everybody knew him and kidded with him and patiently listened to his observations on the weather, the Yankees, and the Lansford Cubs. He was thrilled when Mr. Triplett, the coach, would bet him 25 cents on a Yankee or World Series game,(which usually involved the Yankees). He liked to interject himself into conversations at family gatherings with his loud, booming voice, sometimes to the chagrin of the participants. On one such occasion, he kept pestering Dad for a quarter. Dad said, "Naw, all you'll do is go spend it on candy bars". Nick brought the house down with variety show star Jackie Gleason's favorite phrase, "How SWEET it is!" He was "specially educated" by town and family in the days before special education was required.
He lived with his parents in Mesa, Arizona after they retired and worked at Mesa ARC most of the time he was there , came to Commerce with his mother in August 2001 and lived for two years at Oak Meadow Townhomes. They lived at Harrison House in Greenville until Mom passed in 2007, then he came to Country Home Estates in Commerce, where he stayed until August of 2019, when he moved to Oak Manor in Commerce after having some medical problems. He had a mechanical parrot he kept by his bed and it would repeat back to you everything you said. Nick was pretty calm most of the time, but if he got upset he would repeat some choice words he learned from his Dad and Uncle Bob. The assistants would come get the bird for a "time out" and return it later with a warning. He would wheel around the places he was at and talk to anyone, including the bedpost if they would listen. People seemed to appreciate his childish enthusiasm and exuberance. He was definitely one of a kind and will be missed.
The family would like to thank the staffs and occupants of all the above mentioned residences for their loving care, and a special thanks to Drs. Rick and Tom Selvaggi.
While I didn't get to spend a lot of time with my Uncle Nick, the memories I have of him are strong and clear. I remember his penchant for M&Ms and quarters. He remembered everyone's birthday and was very interested in what cars people drove. Mom would occasionally ask me to take a picture of me in my car to share with Uncle Nick. He was wonderful company. The
time I did get to spend with him always left me feeling good.
One memory in particular happened during my wedding week. Nick and Grandma and two of my best girlfriends flew to Seattle. My mom and I met them at the airport. This was 1999 so we were able to meet them at their gates. Once we were all together we decided that Mom would drive with Grandma in one car and Nick would ride with us girls in another car. The trip took about two hours. Nick had us smiling and kept the conversation going. He was a charmer and a gentleman. He not only rode with us, he entertained us. To this day we fondly recall that trip with Uncle Nick. I will miss him very much.
One of my favorite memories is from my wedding, as well. We picked up Grandma and Nick at the airport and got them settled in their hotel. We said we’d pick them up later and take them
out to dinner and arranged a time. Nick said he didn’t want to go because he wanted to stay in the room, so we planned on having dinner with just Grandma.
Meanwhile, Susan, Margy and Heidi arrived at our apartment; Susan and Margy were there for the wedding and Heidi was just passing through town. Keep in mind we were all in our early to
mid 20s. When it came time for dinner, Rob waited in the car while the 4 young women went into the hotel room to pick up Grandma. When Grandma opened the door and Nick saw us, he
immediately changed his mind and got dressed for dinner. We had a wonderful time and Nick was an entertaining and engaging dinner companion. It was a fun evening and a fond memory
of my Uncle Nick.
I don’t think I could top those stories, but my fond memories of Nick include not only his M&M’s and quarters, but Flipper’s trips (restaurant in Carlsborg) and love for coffee. Also, he knew what games were on TV any given night, which team won, who scored how many points… AND in games that happened years prior! And I can’t forget his patented, “Yeeeaaah, HUH!” when he wanted to participate in whatever conversation he was near.
He remembers that Nick accepted him as one of the family and a friend because he played basketball with him out by the barn. Nick would often ask to talk to him during one of Merry's weekly (most of the time) calls. If asked, he would always talk to Nick for a few minutes.
Visiting Uncle Nick at the farm as a kid was a highlight. We were best playmates. We'd play catch, shoot hoops, and make each other laugh. It was a special treat when he shared candy. I was always astounded by his memory and uncanny ability to find a coffee shop to walk to no matter where he was.
I am thankful I was able to spend a little time with him when Dad and I were in TX May 2019 for Alex's service. Even though I wish we were visiting under much happier circumstances, I am grateful I had the honor of meeting "the parrot". He even got me to fix it for him by replacing its batteries (only finding out later the nurses likely removed them). We sat and talked,
laughed, and watched 80s TV (The Golden Girls, to be exact). While I am sad he left us, I know he's reunited with Grandma & Grandpa, completely healthy and likely sharing his sports memories. He will truly be missed.
I have a lot of fond memories of Uncle Nick. He always put you in a good mood. I remember him shooting baskets with me and playing catch at our North Dakota farm when he’d come to visit and the numerous trips he’d make back and forth to get a cup of coffee at the cafe. In the last 15 years or so I got to see him more and I would try to stump him with mascots from his home state of North Dakota and you just couldn’t stump Nick. He knew all of the scores of games from his brothers’ playing days. He loved telling jokes, watching the birds, reading the newspaper, and keeping up with his Yankees, Twins, and even Rangers. I will miss him for always providing a laugh and his gentle nature.