Monday, February 6, 2023

Mary Carriger Heinz; 1921-2011

Mary Carriger Heinz

“Let me live in my house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by …
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish … so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban?
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.”

– Sam Walter Foss “House by the Side of the Road”

CORONADO – Mary Carriger was born July 31, 1921 in Shellman, Ga. to George and Mamie Carriger into what would become a family of seven.

As a young girl Mary loved writing and poetry and was a straight ‘A’ student. When she wasn’t studying she loved to ride her horse, work on the family farm, and explore the beaches nearby. Even at an early age she displayed a wanderlust and creative nature that nurtured her free spirit.

In 1944 Mary met and married Dr. Vernet H. Heinz in Pensacola, Fla. They raised four children. His military career took them to the Territory of Hawaii and across the United States. They were on Kwajalein Island when the A-bomb was tested on Bikini Atoll.

Of all their duty stations, Coronado remained their favorite. They had visited and lived in Coronado numerous times during the 1950s. After Vern’s retirement from the Navy they moved back to live in their beloved Coronado in 1965.

Vern and Mary opened a family medical practice together in nearby Imperial Beach and they lived in Coronado for 11 years. Doctor Heinz passed away in 1994, just two months before their 50th anniversary.

Mary loved her “House by the Side of the Road,” as she called it. She always looked forward to and enjoyed family gatherings. Her children regarded her as fearless; into her late 80s she gave freely to homeless people on her five-mile walks. She would often say, “I have never met a stranger.”

She was an elegant and dignified lady with standout style and a fondness for hats. She was a strong and independent thinker to the end. Mary had a photographic memory. She recited and wrote poetry and short stories well into her later years. She was also very knowledgeable about plants; she loved the annual Coronado Flower Show and Quail Botanical Gardens, where she described plants by their Latin names.

She is survived by her beloved sister Catherine Berdahl of Nevis, Minn.; her children Shirley H. Ashworth of Salt Lake City; Sharon L. Heinz of Vashon Island, Wash.; Richard G. Heinz (June) of Point Loma; and Robert D. Heinz (Liz) of Saugerties, New York. She leaves behind eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

Services were held at the Harbor Inn at Naval Submarine Base Point Loma. Her remains will be interred with her late husband, Captain V.H. Heinz, at Fort Rosecrans. The family requests that donations be made to Disabled American Veterans “In Memory of Mary Carriger Heinz.”

Mary Carriger Heinz, a memorable, former Coronado resident who always felt Coronado was the most beautiful place she had ever lived. She passed away May 6 at the age of 89.

An extremely elegant and dignified lady, Mary always dressed like the individual she was, often in exotic garb and distinctly wonderful hats. She was a strong and independent thinker right up until the end.

Mary in her youthful prime. All photos courtesy of her family.

Mary and her children, from left, Sharon, Rich, Shirley and Doug.

Mary Carriger Heinz was extremely proud of her family, which included four children,

eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren, many of whom are pictured here.

Joe Ditler
Joe Ditler
Joe Ditler is a professional writer, publicist and Coronado historian. Formerly a writer with the Los Angeles Times, he has been published in magazines and newspapers throughout North America and Europe. He also owns Part-Time PR (a subsidiary of Schooner or Later Promotions), specializing in helping Coronado businesses reach larger audiences with well-placed public relations throughout the greater San Diego County. He writes obituaries and living-obituaries under the cover "Coronado Storyteller." To find out more, write or call [email protected], or (619) 742-1034.