SUSAN ELIZABETH HEATON was born September 8, 1961, to parents Virgil and Sally (Hudson) Heaton in Oelwein, Iowa. Sue was the youngest of four children and loved having three older brothers. The family eventually moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where Sue spent most of her childhood. She actively participated in the drama department and played the violin. Sue graduated from Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids.
After high school, Sue attended Luther College and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in English literature and accounting. She eventually moved to the Minneapolis area where she enjoyed urban life as a young woman. When not working for National Car Rental, she could be found playing volleyball on the courts around Lake Calhoun. Sue met and married Gerry Thomas. The couple soon welcomed a beautiful daughter, Courtney. Sue and Gerry eventually went their separate ways, and Sue began attending a support group for single parents at her church. This is where she met the love of her life, Chuck Jorenby. The two started dating after they shared a dance at a mutual friend’s wedding. Chuck and Sue exchanged wedding vows on August 2, 1996. About a year later, Chuck, Sue, Courtney and Chuck’s daughter, Branwen, made Prior Lake their home. Once Parker was born, their family was complete.
Over the years Sue enjoyed working as an internal auditor and a recruiter in the financial and pharmaceutical industries. She really had a knack for seeing people’s potential. Sue was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 1997, and although it never changed her positive outlook on life, she eventually had to retire from full-time work. Instead she became a professional volunteer.
She was always an active member in her church. She taught Sunday School, participated in Passion Plays, taught drama, and started Parents Night Out. Sue was especially proud of her work as a founding member of The Uplifters, a support group for women battling breast cancer. It started as a group of seven women and has grown to include more than 45 members. Sue especially loved hosting the annual Uplifters Brunch where she would go over-the-top with the food, music and entertainment. Every brunch had a theme. One of the most memorable was The Sisterhood of the Traveling Bras.
Sue’s biggest passions in life were family and community. She was always giving back to her community. She has received countless awards and honors for all of her efforts to make Prior Lake better. Sue loved networking and was involved in a number of organizations: The Optimist Club, Lake Front Music Festival, Laker Idol & Variety Show, Savage’s Got Talent Show, Middle School Band Boosters, Patron of the Arts and Activities, Gymnastics Boosters, the Oratorical Contest, the Prior Lake Players, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Race for the Cure, St. Mary Magdalene Lutheran Church and many more. Sue and Chuck also hosted three foreign exchange students throughout the years. On the rare occasion that Sue had a moment to herself, she enjoyed playing Scrabble. She was VERY competitive and would often say, “It’s not the words you know, but how you play the letters you have.”
It was her determined spirit that kept her going for so long, but on November 29, 2013, Sue’s sixteen-year battle with cancer came to an end. Sue died peacefully at home surrounded by family. She will be missed as a devoted wife, loving mother, and dedicated member of the community.
Sue will always be remembered by husband, Chuck Jorenby of Prior Lake; children Courtney Heaton-Thomas, Branwen Jorenby and Parker Jorenby of Prior Lake; father, Virgil Heaton of St. Charles, Mo.; brothers, Mike (Sam) Heaton of Owego, N.Y., Steve (Melinda) Heaton of Kirkwood, Mo., Tim (Kris) Heaton of Oregon, Wis.; Godchildren, Lindsey Heaton and Erin Heaton; and many loving relatives and friends. Sue is preceded in death by mother, Sally Heaton, and aunt, Nancy Boyle.
A gathering of family and friends was held December 6, 2013, at Ballard-Sunder Funeral Home; 4565 Pleasant Street SE; Prior Lake, MN 55372. The Celebration of Life Service was December 7, 2013, with visitation at Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church; 3611 North Berens Road; Prior Lake, MN 55379, Rev. Steve Bonesho presiding.