Shirley Heim

Shirley Jane Heim, a longtime Claremont resident, died at home on August 6, 2012. She was 87.

Ms. Heim was born on January 29, 1925 in Rochester, Minnesota to Lois and Wilbur Josselyn. She moved west via train to southern California with her parents and brother Donald in 1926.

The Josselyns eventually settled in Riverside, welcoming 4 more children over the years. In 1951, she married Richard Heim at her family home. Mr. Heim was pursuing a doctorate in psychology at Claremont Graduate University, so the couple moved to Claremont, where Ms. Heim gave birth to 2 daughters.

Despite significant physical challenges, Mr. Heim maintained a marriage and family counseling practice in an office adjoining the home. Along with serving as a caregiver/helpmate for her husband, Ms. Heim was active in her daughters’ schools as they traveled from Oakmont Elementary to El Roble Intermediate to Claremont High School. She also participated in her daughters’ Girl Scouts and Campfire Girls troops.

A lifelong art-lover, Ms. Heim enjoyed oil painting, particularly desert landscapes and seascapes, and even took a few lessons from renowned local artist Millard Sheets. She made sure to take her girls to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art at least 2-3 times a year—exhibits of works by Impressionist painters, particularly Van Gogh, were at the top of her list.

“She made sure we children were exposed to as much culture as we could possibly absorb,” her daughter, Susan Davis, shared.

Ms. Heim was also civic-minded, serving for a number of years as an active member and secretary for the League of Women Voters. Her daughters remember her running the old mimeograph machines as she helped to put out the organization’s newsletter.

Ms. Heim also supported philanthropic organizations such as the American Cancer Society and World Wildlife Fund. She loved animals, always ensuring there was a place for a pet cat or bird in the household, and was drawn to nature in general. Though Ms. Heim was afraid of water, she delighted in family trips to the beach, where she would scour the sand for pieces of driftwood she would later polish.

On Sundays, Ms. Heim traveled with her daughters to their grandmother’s house in Riverside, where they enjoyed communing with a close-knit group of 22 cousins. Sometimes, they would head for Fairmount Park to go fishing at the lake, or roam through the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont.

Like her husband, Ms. Heim experienced many physical challenges over the years, getting through them with a combination of tenacity and humor.

“Our mother was well-known for her dry wit. She would often make a quiet comment under her breath, and only later would we realize how funny she was being,” her daughter Christine Fitzpatrick said. “She frequently had a pretty humorous commentary going at our family gatherings.”

In her later years, Ms. Heim, a longtime supporter of the Friends of the Claremont Library, derived enjoyment from reading extensively, particularly mysteries. Agatha Christie was her favorite author. Her TV tastes also ran to the mysterious, fare like “Law and Order” and “Cold Case Files.” 

Ms. Heim’s husband died in 2005, but not before the couple was able to celebrate their 50th anniversary at home surrounded by family.

Ms. Heim is survived by her sister, Lorene Lovan of Riverside; by her brother, Fred Josselyn of Claremont; by her sister, Mary Klock of Riverside; by her daughters, Susan Davis and Christine Fitzpatrick, and their spouses Daniel Davis and James Fitzpatrick; by her grandchildren, Marisa, Darren, Caitlin, Maggie and Rachel; and by her great-grandson Micah. 


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