In Loving Memory ~
An incredible husband, father, son, brother, brother-in-law, uncle, friend...
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Don Michael (Mike) Heaton on July 29, 2023, at Vernon Hospice House. He was 58 years old and passed away from complications of thyroid cancer treatment. He was surrounded by family.
Mike was born April 3, 1965, in Vancouver, BC to Don Leo and Rosalie Ann (Vanderploeg) Heaton.
Mike enjoyed playing football while in school but started working with his dad and Phil Nuytten on dive jobs early and fell in love with diving. He travelled all over the world working jobs on oil rigs, in the Arctic and also worked for major companies. He always enjoyed the outdoors and would go bird hunting on Westham Island and on camping trips with his family.
Mike especially enjoyed hanging out with his great-mates from school. Hunting trips to the prairies, the Yukon and down to relatives in the states always brought back great memories.
In 1995 Mike met his wife Sonja while working in Prince Rupert (and while he was out on a blind date with one of her friends haha sorry - not sorry - I stole him Michele). Mike and Sonja were engaged a few years later.
The following year he was paralyzed while on a dive job in the US. He decided to move up to Prince Rupert to finish his rehabilitation. They married in '98, and he thoroughly embraced being an instant Dad to Sonja's two young girls, Paige & Taylor. Her girls fell in love with him too and they became a family. They soon welcomed one more to their family, a son JJ.
Mike made friends easily in PR, which also included a few kindred souls. They got together often for dinners and became very close. They would often go into the backcountry to hunt, fish or quad around. He enjoyed teaching his kids how to 'rough it', sometimes much to their dismay.
They always learned some sort of lesson from him, especially how to conquer the quad (our daughter Taylor is now a fierce driver). He often took visiting family and friends out fishing or shooting; his friends were like family.
Mike and Sonja made many trips to visit Mike's family in Langley and to help at his parents' place; they visited Vancouver Island, the prairies and Disneyland. He loved the rugged outdoors of the north coast but health-wise it got too difficult for him to stay. He was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2006.
In 2014 they moved down to Vernon with their son. The dry climate was a welcome relief to the chronic pain Mike endured and he was closer to a cancer clinic. He was never far from a gym and he and his son were regulars at the local gym Iron Heart. He was able to find areas to enjoy hunting.
His love of trap shooting continued at the North Okanagan Trap and Skeet Club. He thoroughly enjoyed being part of the shooting community and was very happy when his son JJ joined in along with him at competitions where they did well. He was training our daughter Paige just before his lengthy hospital stay. Mike loved sports but he enjoyed watching his son play football the most and tried to never miss a game.
While attending our new church, Peace Lutheran, a CMHA brochure on the bulletin board caught his eye. His passion for making a difference led him to the Canadian Mental Health Association. First as a volunteer and eventually, as an employee. He truly found his calling and loved all the wonderful people that he worked with.
Mike was never without a hilarious Dad joke or some very interesting tidbit of knowledge. He seemed to know facts about many random subjects. He gained much of this knowledge from his father who was a world traveller himself (owing to his profession as a pro wrestler).
Mike also gained his knowledge of knife making and leatherwork from his father and was exceptionally good at it. Anyone who has taken possession of one of his creations knows this well. Cherish them.
He was a great storyteller. With a glint in his eye, he would tell epic tales at bedtime, he would insert random words like 'oatmeal' in much-loved children's books that would drive the kids goofy, and he would tell fantastical stories like "the hippity hop". You will have to ask one of his children about that.
When ushering kids off to school or out the door to a function Mike could always be heard saying 'boots and saddles!'.
Mike, we will miss your humour and your ability to put everyone you met at ease and show how you truly cared for and respected each person. We will forever carry your love with us. We will never forget you or your beautiful smile and your dreamy blue eyes.
Left to mourn his loss is his wife Sonja (Prince) Heaton of Vernon, his daughter Jacqueline (Paige) Bell also of Vernon, his daughter Taylor Elizabeth Bell and Ken Goudreau of Prince Rupert, and his son Jonathan Jack (JJ) Heaton of Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
Also, his Mother Rosalie Heaton of Langley, his sister Rodonna and Darrell Pearson of Prince Rupert, his brother Jeff, Jill, Isabella and Gabrielle Heaton of Surrey. His In-Laws Jack and Astrid Prince of Prince Rupert; Linda (Randy) Wig, Heather (Hans) Beinert, Karin (Mark) Elford, Jacqueline Jackson, Joanne (Joseph) Nelson; nieces Amanda (Andrew), Britta (Douglas), Courtney (Mark), Demara (Nick), Kara, Jesselyn (John), Shayla; nephews Reed (Chelsey), Jalen, Jonathan (Jade). Along with many more uncles, aunts, cousins, and a few great nieces and nephews in there as well. This is not a complete list of those who will mourn him.
He was predeceased by his father Don Leo Heaton.
The family would like to give a special thanks to Pastor David Hunter, Dr. Barbara Campling, Dr. Gurpreet Nagra, and the compassionate staff at Vernon Hospice House and to a certain special staff member (bed wrangler) at VJH, you know who you are.
A Celebration of Life is being held at Peace Lutheran Church on October 7th at 1:30 p.m. 1204-30th Avenue, Vernon, BC. An informal gathering of family, friends and coworkers and anyone who loved him. Food and refreshments will be served.
In lieu of flowers please consider donating in Mike's name to The Georgette Shop or The People Place using this link https://.cmhavernon.ca or to the North Okanagan Trap and Skeet Club at Home - North Okanagan Trap & Skeet Club
Kindly refer to the attached link for the live streaming of the funeral services.