02/20/1912 – 12/19/2011
Harry Heron passed away peacefully on December 19, 2011 at the Serenity House in Santa Barbara with his son Edward at his side. Harry was adored and admired by all of his family and so many wonderful friends. Born in Flint, Michigan on February 20, 1912 to Joe and Daisy Jane Tarrant Heron, he was the youngest of four brothers. In 1929 he left high school before graduating to attend a 2 year machine shop class at General Motors Institute of Technology. During the Great Depression he worked as a plumber’s helper with his father and older brother, plus did any odd jobs he could find. In 1931 he was asked back to the Institute of Technology to be an instructor in the tech machine shop to train night students. Later he worked for Buick Motors, AC Sparkplug, and Fisher Body where he was promoted to Supervisor of the Tool Department for machinery tools used in the manufacturing of the large 60 ton tanks used in the war effort. In 1945 he left General Motors to venture into private enterprise owning a tire company in Pontiac, Michigan. In 1948 he left that business and started an extended vacation around the United States with his wife and three sons ages 6, 8 and 11. While visiting Santa Barbara, then a town of 35,000, he purchased a gasoline service station and tire business on the corner of Micheltorena and State Street. He and the family headed straight back to Michigan, sold their home, and moved to Santa Barbara. After only 6 months he sold that business and obtained his California real estate license, as did his wife, leading to the establishment of Heron Realty and a very happy and successful life in Santa Barbara.
Harry was a member of the Santa Barbara Association Realtors for 63 years, Realtor of the Year in 1953 and President in 1954. He was an Honorary President of the California Association of Realtors and was very proud of the 4 years he served as their Chaplain. Along with his wife, he was also active in the National and International Association of Realtors. He had many interests outside of Real Estate too, and made great contributions to the Santa Barbara community. He was a 60 year life member and past president of the Santa Barbara Host Lions Club. In 1978 he was one of the founding directors of City Commerce Bank and served from the day it opened as the Chairman of the Board for 18 years. He was also proud of his time on the Santa Barbara City Council in 1957-1958, representing the Samarkand area, during the time councilpersons represented individual districts in the city. In 1956 he led the successful effort of establishing the Samarkand Retirement Home and was recognized in 1990 for 35 years of active membership on its Board of Managers. It is written that “without Harry and his efforts over many years” Samarkand would not exist today. Harry and his wife have been residents at the Samarkand since 2001.
An avid traveler, he took over 40 cruises to every part of the world, with most taken between the ages of 70 and 94. After acquiring an Apple computer at the age of 85 and taking an Adult Ed computer class, he spent years completing a family genealogy using both the Apple and a PC. Within the last days of his life, he completed his personal life story of which he is so very proud.
His wife and partner of 58 years, Jeanette Heron, passed away in 1994 and they are survived by their three children Robert (Claire), Edward (Mary) and Fred (Valerie, deceased), along with 14 grandchildren, Vance, Kyle, Brett, Tammara, Creigh, Devon, Courtney, Darian, Sabrina, Kelly, John, Molly, Rick and Valerie and 31 great grandchildren. In 1996 he married Joy Gebhardt of Santa Barbara and is survived by Joy and her children Cynthia (David) and Judy (George) and grandchildren Danielle and Dennis.
Philanthropy was important to Harry, and as such, at the new Cottage Hospital two of the offices within the Sacred Space will be named for Harry and Joy, and the Gift Shop will be named in honor and loving memory of Jeanette. Harry credits the Salvation Army in Flint for providing the basis for his Christian Life and so he created a fund many years ago for the Flint Michigan Salvation Army Band, providing scholarships for young people going to band camp, and for the provision of musical instruments for those in need. He loved helping young people and supported the Computers For Families program of Partners in Education. In Santa Barbara, he was an active member of the Presbyterian Church and once served as the Chair of its Board of Trustees. He was also an active supporter along with his wife Joy of the Santa Barbara Symphony. Harry lived to be almost 100 by the simple philosophy that “if you make the right choices, good things will happen” and to “not worry about things you can’t control.”
At his request, services will be private. Donations can be made to the Harry and Jeanette Heron Scholarship Fund, c/o California Association of Realtors, 525 S. Virgil Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90020 or to the SB Cottage Hospital Foundation, PO Box 689. Santa Barbara, 93102 or to Sansum Clinic, PO Box 1200, Santa Barbara, 93102.