Beloved wife and mother, Janice Marie Bales Heiderstadt passed away on the morning of August 27, 2023. She is survived by her husband of 57 years, Richard Heiderstadt, her son Nicolas Heiderstadt and his wife Kristen Heiderstadt, and her sisters, Melanie Bales and Terry Rand. She was preceded in death by her father Lt. Col. William B. Bales, USAF (Ret.), Her mother Thelma Bales, and her sister Suzan Roberts.
Born October 12, 1944 in Coffeyville, Kansas, her youth was spent moving around the country to her father’s various military postings along with her mother and sisters.
Janice met Richard in Washington, D.C. while they were both working as interns for the Department of the Army. Love quickly blossomed between them and, as soon as Richard turned 21, they were married at Andrews Air Force Base in Northern Virginia. After a brief honeymoon on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, their travels took them from Iowa to Hawaii, where Richard was stationed at Hickam AFB during his tour in the US Air Force, to New Jersey, and then to Annandale, Buffalo, and finally Charlottesville, Virginia, where they made their permanent home in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Over 57 years, through good times and hard, prosperous times and lean, their love never wavered. They were as devoted to one another as two people could be, partners in love and life, overcoming obstacle after obstacle as Richard pursued multiple graduate degrees and built a highly successful consulting business. Each knew how lucky they were to have the other, and their nearly six decades of marriage stand as a testament to their love and devotion. They doted on one another, whether it was Janice driving into town every day to find the papers Richard so loved to read, or Richard baking Janice’s favorite lemon meringue pie for her every birthday.
In 1978, Janice and Richard welcomed their son Nicolas, who would be their only child, into the world. Janice loved motherhood and doted on her son, teaching him to recite classic American poems, to appreciate the music of the 1970s and 80s, and even taking him on a summer-long tour of Virginia’s many caverns when the family’s move to Charlottesville proved overwhelming. Most of all, she taught him that joy could be found almost anywhere if one was prepared to see it. In the years prior to her death, they would talk almost every day by telephone.
In 1996, Janice lost her beloved sister and best friend Suzy to cancer of the brain, a blow from which she never truly recovered, although she never lost her cheerful outlook or her deep love for her family.
Janice lived her life her way, always, from her baggy clothes and constantly mismatched socks, to the signature way she wore her hair plaited in two long braids and wrapped over the crown of her head. Her vocabulary was peppered with dozens of unique words and phrases of her own invention. Her laugh was infectious as she threw her head back and guffawed at her favorite TV show, a family member’s joke, or a silly card featuring a cat bouncing up and down on a riding lawn mower.
An avid reader and a great fan of movies and television programs, Janice explored the world from the comfort of her armchair, traveling to Ancient Egypt, the early American colonies, Victorian London, and her favorite place of all, Scotland, thanks in no small part to her favorite book series, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. She loved the strange and mysterious, and often said that her dream was to be an archaeologist. The books that filled the shelves throughout the house were practically a PhD course in that and many other subjects, mixed in among everything from beautifully illustrated books of fairy tales to potboiler romances to magazines about everything from the Mongol Empire to Indiana Jones.
More than learning, she loved sharing her knowledge with others. A teacher by both profession and inclination, she was always ready to regale anyone who would listen with her thoughts on (and a full plot summary of) her latest read or viewing. She would rewatch movies she enjoyed until she had all but memorized them, and could often be heard humming the theme songs to her favorites, which included The Great Escape, The Vikings, and Ben-Hur, and more recently, the Marvel universe of superhero movies. She would often work her favorite quotes into conversations, and was an unwitting expert at memes even before anyone knew what they were.
She had many other hobbies, including knitting, quilting, crochet and needlework. The walls and beds of the homes she shared with her family were covered with her constantly growing body of work, from rustic bedspreads, to lap blankets, to cross-stitch samplers and reproductions of famous works of art created with thousands of painstaking, x-shaped stitches. She crafted so much and so often that she eventually wore the fingerprints from her hands, and those closest to her would joke about her embarking on a life of crime now that she would leave no trace behind.
She was an obsessive puzzler, a lover of crosswords, hidden pictures, word finds, and, more than anything, jigsaw puzzles of all sizes, subjects and descriptions. She always had a considerable backlog of these, not least because Richard loved to spoil her with her favorite wooden puzzles from Liberty Classics, which she adored.
A notoriously picky eater, she disdained pickles, mushrooms, salad dressings, and anything pulled from a body of water, but loved plain cheeseburgers and french fries from McDonald’s, as well as the toys that came with them in the Happy Meals she always ordered.
Most of all, she radiated joy and love. She would randomly burst into songs she’d made up or strike up conversations with complete strangers. Her excitement was infectious, and her personality, intelligence, and kind, accepting nature charmed all who met her. Many described her as “just the sweetest woman,” which was both true and, given her insatiable sweet tooth, quite literal.
Most of all, she was a devoted wife and mother who gave her entire heart to her family, her husband, her son, her daughter-in law, and her two grandcats, whom she adored and spoiled. She will be missed beyond words, and never forgotten by those who knew and loved her.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.teaguefuneralhome.com for the Heiderstadt family.