Luther Freeman Heaton, 82, Minot, North Dakota Softball Hall of Fame umpire and award winning youth director at Minot Air Force Base, died Wednesday, July 24, 2013, in a Grand Forks hospital.
Luther was born Aug. 3, 1930, in Crossville, Ala., to Lyous and Lemon (Peppers) Heaton. He was reared and educated in Crossville and graduated from Crossville High School in 1948. He played professional baseball for one season prior to enrolling in Newberry College in South Carolina. Following his education, he was employed at a textile mill and played amateur basketball.
Luther married Ruth Saylors on June 2, 1950, in Trion, Ga. He enlisted in the Air Force on Feb. 11, 1952, and was stationed at various Air Force bases including Greenland, Georgia, Tennessee, Germany, Vietnam, Minot (from 1967-1972) and Japan. Luther returned to Minot AFB in 1976 and retired from the Air Force on Feb. 28, 1978, following 26 years of service. Luther and Ruth continued to make their home in Minot until Luther, due to his failing health, moved to Grand Forks to live with his daughter.
Following his military service, Luther continued his education at Minot State University and received his bachelor's degree in business administration in 1982. Following his graduation he was employed as the Minot AFB athletics intramural director for two years before becoming the manager of the Minot AFB youth center from 1983 to 1993.
Luther's beloved wife, Ruth, died Sept. 23, 2007.
Luther was a member of Vincent United Methodist Church and Faith United Methodist Church, both Minot. He was a member of Noncommissioned Officers Association and the Amateur Softball Association. He was inducted into the North Dakota Softball Hall of Fame, was named Outstanding Youth Director for the Strategic Air Command and received the Meritorious Service Award for Outstanding Youth Director. Luther especially enjoyed fishing, gardening, traveling and crossword puzzles.
Luther's loving family includes: his daughter, Lisa (Paul) Kocsis, of Grand Forks, and grandchildren Jessica and Michael Kocsis.
Luther was preceded in death by: his parents; wife; sisters, MaeBelle Steele and Myrtle Moorer; brother, LeRoy Heaton; and special niece, Bobbie Jones.
Celebration of the Life of Luther Heaton: Tuesday, July 30, at 11 a.m., in Vincent United Methodist Church, Minot. A funeral service will also be held Sunday, Aug. 4, at 2 p.m., in Wilson Funeral Home, Fort Payne, Ala.
Visitation: Monday, from 2 to 6 p.m., in Thomas Family Funeral Home, Minot, and Saturday, Aug. 3, from 4 to 7 p.m., in Wilson Funeral Home, Fort Payne.
Interment: West Hills Cemetery in Trion, Ga., following the funeral in Alabama.
Memorials are preferred to Vincent United Methodist Church Sowers of Love or the Lord's Cupboard.
Those wishing to sign the online memorial register or share memories and condolences are invited to use the expressions of sympathy section at (www.thomasfamilyfuneralhome.com).