In Memorials, News, Newsletter

1925 – 2022

Virginia Heavilin was born April 6, 1925, to Calvin and Nina (Reider) Spencer in Emporia, Kansas, along with her identical twin sister Gertrude — #5 and #6 of eight siblings. Virginia died early morning on June 19, 2022, two years after her beloved Paul. She had just spent a few enjoyable hours the previous afternoon with her daughter, Marilyn, relishing the afternoon sun.

Virginia won an art talent contest as a senior in high school and was awarded a scholarship to Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas. Her twin sister shared the scholarship, awarded two years each in alternating years while the other twin worked back home to help with room and board. Virginia pursued studies in art as well as in home economics.

The girls learned about Marion College through a visiting Friends (Quaker) men’s quartet from Marion, Indiana, who recommended the Wesleyan Methodist college near their church. The girls wrote to the Marion Friend’s Church to get advice and introduce themselves. Paul Heavilin, secretary of the youth/young adult group, responded to their letter. Gertrude, along with younger sister Maxine, moved to Marion, followed by Virginia later. They attended Marion Friends church, where they met charismatic Paul. The rest is history.

Virginia’s father died of a stroke soon after, before Paul had a chance to meet him. On August 25, 1948, Paul and Virginia, along with Maxine and Dale Clements, married in a double wedding in the back yard of their mother’s home in Emporia, Kansas.

Virginia didn’t finish college, as Martha Jane came along a year later. Marilyn Ruth was born after they moved to northwest Wisconsin for their first ministry assignment. A year later, Marietta was born. The family moved to Midwest Bible College in Missouri when Marietta was less than a week old. Virginia became college cook while trying to feed and diaper a baby girl with two toddlers underfoot. Over the next several years, Virginia gave birth to four more babies in three states: Paul and Margarita “Becky” in Missouri, Philip in Iowa, Peter back again in Wisconsin.

Even though health issues began to plague her after Phil’s birth, Virginia never let that stop her from being a nourishing, caring mother. She spent hours bandaging wounds (physical and emotional); soothing a child from nightmares; gathering her children around to read aloud age-level stories, the Bible, and even classic literature to inspire and entertain during long summer vacations; helping with homework; teaching home skills; and setting an example to us on all fronts.

Virginia saw mothering as part of her ministry. She also utilized skills learned in college to help Paul in his ministries. He depended on her for help, advice, prayer, and even stability. She was a true helpmate, welcoming people into their home, hosting women’s meetings, helping with VBS and youth camps, writing object lessons and scripts to go with her famous chalk drawings, using her beautiful harmonizing voice in choirs as well as duets and trios, mentoring homesick SVA girls, etc. Virginia truly exemplified a Proverbs 31 woman: “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her” (v. 28, NKJV).

Virginia was preceded in death by her husband, her parents, and all of her siblings except one. One of Paul’s surviving brothers, John, passed the same day as Virginia, just a few hours later. She is survived by her sister Alice Moon, as well as all of her children: Martha Ling, Marilyn (Dan) Current, Marietta (John) Luman, Paul Jr. (Jo), Becky (Lee) Larson, Philip (Linda) and Peter (Michelle); niece and nephew Carolyn and Ken Clements, whom she and Paul helped raise; 20 grandchildren, 52 great-grandchildren, seven great-great-grandchildren; myriads of nieces and nephews, plus “kids of the heart” who had lived in their home over the years.