Delbert “Del” Delane Heap passed away on January 23,2021 in Mesa, AZ at the age of 97. His mother said that he was almost born on the stagecoach she took from Round Valley, Idaho to her mother’s home in Emmett, Idaho in order to have a doctor present. But she made it in time to give birth in her mother’s bed around 1 am on August 1, 1923. He was the third child born to Arthur “Art” & Clara Heap. They preceded him in death along with his sister Audrey; his brothers, Richard and Lloyd; his daughter, Denise; and his lovely wife, Jackie. He was raised in Idaho, and spent his early childhood living on a ranch in New Plymouth. He experienced living with no electricity, no indoor bathroom, no telephone, and taking a bath once a week in a tub by the wood burning stove. From a very young age, Del worked hard on the ranch, milking cows by hand before school, separating cream, cleaning the barn, planting crops, cutting and stacking hay, harvesting corn and grain, driving a team of horses, cleaning ditches, raising hogs, turkeys and chickens. He and his brother, Richard rode a horse with no saddle to the one room schoolhouse. At the age of 6 or 7, he and his brother returned on horseback from school to find their house burned down. None of his family were injured, but he talked about how frightening that was and the struggle his family had due to the Great Depression. Del loved to go camping with his family where he learned to fly fish from his father, and would pick huckleberries for his mom’s jam & pies. He enjoyed hunting, ice skating, and snow skiing. He also liked roller skating, but would have to wait until they visited his aunt because there were no sidewalks on the ranch.
In the spring of his sophomore year, his family moved to Ohio to take care of his Aunt Cora’s farm. He and his brother attended school there and entertained their classmates with tales of the “Wild West”. Two months later they moved to Bremerton, WA, and he got a job fueling planes at the air park. They paid him with flying lessons but he only received a few lessons before his family moved again, to Portland, OR. During the summer in Oregon, he worked for his Uncle’s plastering company, mixing mud and carrying hod to the plasterers. He then went to work for a lathe contractor, nailing wood lathe on houses. He earned enough money that summer to pay for his share of the groceries and to buy his new school clothes. Following that summer, he and his brother were sent to Fruitland, ID to live with their aunt and finish high school. During high school he had many jobs, including: working at a café making milkshakes, waiting tables, and washing dishes; at the grocery store counting eggs and delivering groceries; driving trucks on the county highway maintenance crew; and loading boxcars with baskets of apples at the apple packing house. Even with all his jobs he found time to participate in boxing, tennis, and football at the high school. After graduating high school, he took a job running the front end of the local gas station and worked there until the owner sold the station. Finding himself unemployed, he and a friend drove to Los Angeles, CA where he obtained a job at a paper box factory cutting boxes for See’s Candy. In 1943, World War II was underway and Del heard there were good jobs in the U.S. Navy shipyards in Bremerton, WA. So he hitch-hiked a ride to Washington and obtained a job in the shipyard repairing “shot up” ships. He worked there until he was drafted into the Marine Corps. He was assigned to the USS Saratoga aircraft carrier, and his job was the sight operator for one of the 40 mm guns. He spent two years on the Saratoga fighting in the Pacific War. He had many horrifying experiences during the war, from losing all the men on his gun crew during a Kamikaze attack, nearly being swept off the ship during a typhoon, and watching his cousin’s ship go down. From the ship he witnessed the raising of the American flag on Okinawa.
Following the war, he worked briefly as fisherman on a tuna boat off the coast of Mexico, before returning to Idaho to work with his dad selling real estate. Shortly thereafter, he decided to take over the lease on his father’s ranch, so he moved out to the ranch where he said, “I bached it, milking cows and planting crops”. He was also active in the VFW and was elected Commander. He was also a member of the Military Order of the Cooties. He was appointed by the County Commissioners, along with 2 other men, to set-up a rural fire department. While he was Commander they established the rural fire department in New Plymouth and purchase a new fire truck. Del loved to dance, and on Saturday nights you could find him at the Gay Way dance hall. It was here that he became interested in a young lady named Jackie Wood. They were married on January 27, 1950 and spent 70 wonderful years together. They began their lives in Idaho running the farm and then working for Jackie’s father on the ranch. Later they owned and operated a small grocery store in Letha, ID, where Del was also the postmaster. While in Letha, ID, the welcomed 2 daughters to their family, Denise and Cindy. Denise had severe asthma and Del was tired of the dismal winters, so they moved to Arizona hoping the climate would be better for Denise. They settled in Mesa, and soon after welcomed another daughter, Carla. Del and Jackie were sealed as a family in the Mesa, AZ Temple in November of 1959. Three years later they welcomed their fourth child, another girl named Janeen. After moving to AZ, he briefly worked for the post office before he started his real estate career at Charles Mattingly in Phoenix. After working there a year, he left and joined Fred Arnett Realty in Mesa. In 1964, he opened his own office, Del Heap Realty. During this time, he served on the board of directors of the Mesa Multiple Listing Association, was elected President of the Mesa Realtors Association(1971), and was honored as realtor of the year(1974). He owned rental properties and managed/maintained them with the help of his wife and daughters. He was a hard worker; from selling real estate, fixing up apartments, mowing lawns, repairing the family cars, fixing broken washing machines, broken bikes, leaky faucets, plumbing problems, replacing flooring, painting, or helping a person in need. He was never one to leave things broken or untidy. He always found time to serve the widows in his church with yard work and home repairs.
Every summer, he and Jackie would pack up the family in the car and head to Idaho to visit their relatives. He would sing songs with his family on the long road trips. He dealt with frequent stops for his girls; broken down cars; flat tires; even hitching a ride with strangers, leaving Jackie and the girls alone by the road while he went to get a part or a tire. He always spoke of the wonderful times we had in Idaho. He loved spending time outdoors, camping or at the lake with his family. Over the years he owned different ski boats and he continued waterskiing into his 70s. He welcomed 3 son-in-laws, 14 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren. He often expressed how wonderful it was to live long enough to see so many people added to his family. He never missed an opportunity to tell each person in the family how much he loved them and how wonderful they are. He always said how proud he was of his family and that there wasn’t a “scrub in the bunch”. His legacy of service, hard work, and dedication to family will be remembered and carried on by his loved ones. He holds a special place in all our hearts and will be missed in so many ways.
He is survived by 3 daughters, Cindy (Rick) Apple, Carla (David) Weaver, and Janeen Ashcroft; 14 grandchildren, Heather (Keith), Brook (Casey), Darci (Derrick), Lindsay (Billy), Dawn (John), Ashley (Sean), Michael, Candice (Aaron), Delane, Madison, Nicholas (Ashley), Dalton, Jacob, and Bryce; and 14 great grandchildren, Nate, Drew, Jordyn, Caden, Alyssa, Tré, Tristyn, Rylan, Boston, Janie, Beckham, Jackie, Bodhi and Dylan.
Funeral Services will be Saturday, February 20, 2021 at 11:00 am. *Due to COVID the service will be immediate family only. For information on attending via zoom please contact a family member.