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Obituaries » Emma Jean Pagliai (Heaney)

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December 15, 1929 - January 9, 2019

Cremation will take place and she will be laid to rest at Ft. Custer National Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, c/o the funeral home.

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Emma Jean Pagliai (Heaney), died Wednesday, January 9, 2019 at Rose Arbor Hospice Residence in Kalamazoo, MI, from dementia-related complications. Born December 15, 1929, in Fairmont, WV, the daughter of the late Earl and Martha Eve Michael, Jean grew up on her family’s farm. Her father had been a teacher and from an early age, Jean knew that was her calling as well. Determined to follow that path, she worked and studied her way from the mountain hollers of West Virginia to the halls of Fairmont State College and eventually to Western Michigan University where she earned her Master’s. Jean’s first teaching position was in a one-room schoolhouse in Ohio, where she taught home economics. Following stints in several districts, she spent the bulk of her career in Kalamazoo Public Schools, working primarily as a special education instructor at Spring Valley Elementary, assisting children with reading difficulties. Jean enjoyed traveling and her adventurous spirit carried her to nearly every continent. Memories of trips to Europe and Africa were particularly dear to her and her husband John. They also shared fond memories of winters spent in Fort Myers, FL. Jean’s recent struggles with the infirmities of age and dementia were difficult for friends and family to witness. They remember a very different, bright and strong-willed woman, one who loved square dancing, camping and sundrenched days spent with loved ones at her longtime residence on Pine Lake near Plainwell. They also remember a woman who took pride in her frugality and seldom shied away from a heated argument over politics or current events. For years after retirement, Jean and John volunteered with the Red Cross. They served in several disaster relief efforts in the wake of hurricanes and floods, traveling to both coasts, the Mississippi River Basin and Puerto Rico. Jean was preceded in death by her husband John Pagliai, her former husband Raymond Heaney and son-in-law Bud Horrocks, as well as four siblings; Rosemary Augustus (Michael) Rogers, Dora Ellen (Michael) Ruddick, William “Bill” Michael and Harold “Buck” Michael. She is survived by her four children, two sons-in-law, a daughter-in-law, twelve grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Her daughter Cynthia (Heaney) Hollister, her husband Mark Hollister and their daughter Jesse Ann Hollister; daughter Debra (Heaney) Horrocks and her children; Zachery Taylor, Christopher Horrocks and Samuel Horrocks; daughter Patricia Mitchell, her husband Jonathan Mitchell and their children; Daniel Mitchell, William Mitchell and Emma Mitchell; son Douglas Heaney, his wife Natalie Dean and their children; Lauren “Krea” Dean and her child, Parker Brown, Jared Heaney and his child, Cooper Heaney, Cheyanne Payne, Lauren Heaney and Caleb Morse.