George Roger Heavner

December 9, 1933October 1, 2020

George Roger Heavner, a native of Upper Tract, West Virginia, passed away on October 1, 2020 from Pneumonia. During his life, George was a farmer, husband, chemist, father, grandfather, woodworker, inventor and beekeeper. He served in the US Air Force as an airplane electrician. He was 86.

George was born December 9, 1933 to Anna Dyer Heavner and Walter P. Heavner in Upper Tract, West Virginia. George attended Franklin High School where he was a member of “Future Farmers of America.”

George married Betty Lea Ruddle Aug. 9. 1957 in Franklin, WV, and became parents to David (married to Laura McGregor, Fairport, NY), Becky (married to Bryan Leister, Denver, CO) and Tom (Boulder, CO). Grand children and spouses are Matt (married to Allison of Seattle, WA) and Lindsey Thurber (married to Brennen, Greenwood, NY).

Shortly after high school, George joined the Air Force and served for four years. He was stationed in Greenland to repair airplanes. He attended college on the GI bill. George told his family he was first interested in studying structural engineering but changed degree paths since engineering was no longer offered at the school. He obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Davis and Elkins College. George worked for briefly for Hercules Inc., where he tested fuel for the UGM-27 Polaris submarine missile.

George had an interest in building things and inventing. In 1968, along with Bill Hamilton, he filed a patent for an original design invention of a Portable Gate. As a teenager he built a barn near his family home. He continued with his interest in woodworking and built furniture, including two grandfather clocks, and a large cross for a church in Alexandria, Virginia.

Most of his career was spent in government service with the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service in Washington DC and in Kansas City, Kansas. He was the chemist in charge of the lab in Kansas City and was responsible for food standards, regulations and import regulations for foreign meats, including the Parma ham. After retiring from the government, he was a chemist for The Association of Official Analytical Chemists before formally retiring to Harrisonburg, VA in 1996. After retiring, he moved with his wife, Betty Lea Heavner, to Harrisonburg, Virginia. In his retirement he first became interested in biking and then later kept a large vegetable garden, an orchard and bees. He studied trees; processed honey and loved to work in his shop, where he tinkered and fixed things. George is survived by his wife, Betty Lea (Ruddle), their children, and his sisters, Mary Sue Heavner Mallow and Betty Ann Puffenbarger. George is loved by many in Harrisonburg, particularly their friends at Asbury Church and kind neighbors in Harrisonburg, Virginia. George had a gentle, quiet nature and was willing to help all that asked. He was a kind father and smart man who was known to fix everything. He will be missed by neighbors and friends and most importantly by all his immediate family and siblings.

He is preceded in death by his brothers John Dyer Heavner and William Allen Heavner.

He will be buried on Tuesday, October 6th, Cherry Hill, Upper Tract, West Virginia.

Lindsey Funeral Home in Harrisonburg is handling arrangements and condolences may be sent to the family by visiting


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


George Roger Heavner

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October 7, 2020


While I never had the pleasure of meeting George, reading about his legacy was very inspiring.

Having gotten to know you over the past five years, I can see your dad's influence in you. Kindness, calm demeanor, helping people, and of course a love for chemistry & bees!

I am certain of his pride in raising such a wonderful human being for a son. May he rest in peace.

My thoughts are with you, Laura and your loved ones.


Sheila Garrick

October 5, 2020

My most sincere condolences to Betty Lea and family! George was my neighbor, classmate and friend and one of the kindest, nicest people you'll ever meet. He and Betty Lea were truly soul-mates, and I'm positive much of George's success stemmed from Betty Lea's encouragement and support. He certainly was a man of many interests and talents and without doubt will be greatly missed not only by family, but his many friends. God's Blessings on each of you!

Darlene Mallow

October 3, 2020

Bill and I enjoyed visiting Uncle George and Aunt Betty. We learned about all of the things they were doing and have done in their lives. He will be missed by so many. I will miss seeing him at our Dyer and Heavner/Mallow reunions. He was always one of the first people there asking where he could lend a hand. I don't remember a reunion that he wasn't there in fact. People are saying he was quiet. He was, but he said so much.
Aunt Betty and cousins, we love you and pray for peace and wonderful memories of Uncle Bill.
Bill and Darlene

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