Obituary— Donald Heath
Donald Riddle “Bubba” Heath, age 89, passed away peacefully on June 30, 2021, in his home in Van Horn, Texas, with his family by his side. Born in El Paso, Texas on September 28, 1931, Bubba was the son of John Thomas Heath and Hazel Armstrong Heath. He was a lifelong resident of Van Horn. Bubba attended school in Van Horn from grade school to graduation. He played center on the 6-man football team. He was one of the six graduates of the Van Horn High School class of 1949. He was the last surviving member of his class. Bubba attended Texas A&M University where he was a member of the Corps of Cadets. In 1953, he graduated with a B.S. degree in Industrial Technology.
Bubba served his country honorably as a pilot in the United States Army from 1954-1957. He was stationed in Germany during that time, where he met his wife, Gisela Fischer. They were married on July 29, 1959. After being discharged, Bubba served in the Army Reserve.
In 1957, Bubba returned to Texas where he took a job with the El Paso Natural as an estimator. After one year in El Paso, he returned home and entered the family business that his parents started in 1949. At that time, the business consisted of a Firestone and home supply store, which later became the Heath Home and Auto Supply. Bubba worked in the business until May of 1961 when he was recalled into Active Duty during the Cuban Missile Crisis. After fulfilling his military commitment, he returned to the family business where he worked for the remainder of his life.
Bubba was a hard-working entrepreneur. He and his brother, Johnny, succeeded in establishing a network of businesses in Van Horn. As a testament to their entrepreneurial spirit, in 1959, they started the first concrete company in Van Horn, Heath Concrete, which was Bubba’s passion. In 1972, they built and opened the first convenience store in Van Horn, H&H #1. Both of these businesses are still in operation today. In later years, they opened H&H Tire Company and H&H #2, the home of the famous “DIESEL FRIED CHICKEN.” In 1975, they were awarded the Outstanding Business of the Year by the Van Horn Chamber of Commerce for their many contributions to the community.
Bubba was an excellent role model and mentor to all the lives he touched. He had a strong work ethic and he demonstrated a tremendous willingness to help others. He had wealth of knowledge that he graciously shared with all who worked with him. He was a hands-on boss. He never asked anyone to do anything he would not do. He persevered no matter what obstacles he faced. He believed if you loved your job, you never worked a day in your life.
In his spare time, Bubba loved to fly his airplane. He enjoyed his time spent flying with the Civil Air Patrol. He enjoyed traveling. He faithfully took his family on vacations twice a year. One of his favorite vacation destinations was Mazatlan, Mexico. He usually went deep-sea fishing with Don and Ronnie on each trip. In the winter, he enjoyed snow skiing in Ruidoso, New Mexico. As long as he was able to drive, he never missed his Aggie Class Reunion. He was a true Aggie. He LOVED Texas A&M. He was an avid reader. While he was still able, he went to the library every week to get a stack of novels to read.
Bubba was preceded in death by his parents, his brother, John Thomas Heath, Jr., and his nephew, Steve Heath.
Those left to honor and cherish the memory of Bubba are his wife of 62 years, Gisela Heath, of Van Horn; daughter, Jannine Heath, of Van Horn; sons, Don Heath (Lorie), of San Angelo, Texas; Ronnie Heath (Jessica), of Midland, Michigan; 3 grandchildren, Brittney Heath, Courtney Heath Dianda (Marcus), and Hudson Heath. He is also survived by his sister, Betty Jean Heath Russell (Raymond), of Pawhuska, Oklahoma, and several nieces and nephews.
Bubba was a lifelong, faithful member of the First United Methodist Church of Van Horn, Texas. It is a blessing that he is able to say his final farewell in the church where his journey with Christ began. A celebration of Bubba’s life will be held at the First United Methodist Church on Friday, August 6, 2021, at 2:00 p.m. with Pastor Jerry Donovan officiating. Interment will follow at the Van Horn Cemetery
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to the First United Methodist Church of Van Horn, Texas, P.O. Box 67, Van Horn, Texas 79855.