Evelyn Laverne (Johnson) Heyn, 88, passed away on December 11, 2012. Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Friday, at St. Augustin Catholic Church in Des Moines. Burial will take place at Resthaven Cemetery in West Des Moines. Visitation will be Thursday, December 13, 2012 from 5 to 7 p.m. at McLaren's Funeral Chapel in West Des Moines.
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Evelyn was born in a snow storm on a farm five miles from Vermillion in northeast Kansas. Her dad had to hitch up the horses and go into town for the doctor. She was raised on that drought stricken farm during the Great Depression, along with four brothers and three sisters. When she was old enough to gather eggs, she developed a farm girl work ethic that she carried to the day she died.
She had developed cataracts on her eyes and at 16 was taken to Denver to have one removed.
She missed her sophomore year in high school. The next year her dad didn't want her going back to school. Her mother insisted Evelyn get a high school education. In spite of sight problems, she graduated from Vermillion High School in 1943 with good grades.
After graduation, she went to Denver and got a job with Continental Air, installing radios in bombers. She soon decided she'd rather operate radios than install them. She attended a radio school in Omaha, once again getting good grades. Evelyn was hired by Civil Aeronautics Adm. And after advanced training was assigned to Page Field, a P-51 training bas at Ft. Meyers, FL where she became known by the pilots she communicated with as "That Southern Gal".
In April, 1945 S. Sgt. Jack Heyn, Air Force Photographer, was assigned to Page Field after a three year hitch in the southwest Pacific. A couple weeks after Jack got there, he was heading to the field after a movie in town. Evelyn was headed out to pull the "graveside shift", and they met on the bus. He discovered she was from Kansas and was called "Jonnie" from her maiden name. They spent a lot of time together that summer, and in July, Jack decided he wanted Jonnie to be "My Jonnie" and asked her to marry him. Although she had two G.I.'s from Denver and a home boy pressing her for commitment, without any hesitation, her answer was "yes".
The war ended and Jack got his honorable discharge in September. Jonnie got a transfer to Jacksonville Air Port. Jack was scheduled to attend photography school in New York City in January. They were married December 10, 1945 in Jacksonville. Jonnie asked for a transfer to LaGuardia Field and got it. When Jack finished the six month course, he got a job in Kearney, New Jersey. Jonnie quit her job and they moved to New Jersey. Daughters Jean and Gail were born in Kearney in 1946 and 1947. A third daughter, Dian, was born in 1949, but only lived two days due to a birth defect. The two Midwesterners decided the east coast was no place to raise a family. Jack had a sister living in Des Moines and that is where they settled in 1949. Except for ten years during the 80's in Denver, they have lived here.
Jack had a studio at 38th and Douglas for 24 years, specializing in weddings and commercial work. After the girls got in school, Jonnie held a number of different jobs, from teacher's aide to dental assistant, to caregiver at Kids West in West Des Moines. Jonnie developed osteoporosis several years ago and it had plagued here ever since. A stress fracture in her back caused her to spend her final days in care centers, nursing home and hospice.
My Jonnie was a remarkable lady. A wonderful daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother and will be missed by many, especially me, her husband of 67 years.
Memorial contributions may be directed to the Iowa Commission of the Blind in lieu of flowers.
Published in Des Moines Register on Dec. 13, 2012