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Family, Friends Mourn Loss of Geraldine Heath, 71

Dec. 22, 2005 – Family and friends Thursday mourned the death of Geraldine Heath, 71, who died Wednesday at her St. Thomas home. Heath was the wife of former health commissioner and prominent St. Thomas physician Dr. Alfred O. Heath.
"She was charming, graceful, loving, and a typical English teacher," her husband said.
He said the two had spent last weekend at parties on St. Thomas and St. Croix. She became ill Wednesday.
Heath and his wife met while they were students at Temple University in Philadelphia. Heath was a pharmacy student and his wife, a Philadelphia native, was studying for her master's degree in education with a minor in English literature and French.
"We met through mutual friends," Heath said, adding that they were married in 1957.
He said his wife received her bachelor's degree from Morgan State University.
He said that when he went to Germany with the U.S. Army, his wife went along to teach in schools for military dependents.
Heath and his wife returned to St. Thomas in 1965, where she resumed her teaching career.
He said she was assistant principal at Wayne Aspinall School, now Addelita Cancryn School, before becoming the Education Department's director of secondary education.
She returned to the classroom to teach at Charlotte Amalie High School and Joseph Gomez School.
He said she retired, but then went on to work at Ss. Peter and Paul School, as a substitute teacher at Antilles School, and just this year, as a temporary teacher at Peace Corps School.
"She loved kids and loved teaching," he said.
Heath said his wife was in the midst of making plans to finish work on her doctorate degree when she died.
He said his wife was active in community affairs, including United Way, the Humanities Council and the American Cancer Society. She also worked with the Arts Alive program and had been a member of the Humane Society of St. Thomas.
Heath said his wife loved to travel and had been all over Europe and to Russia.
"And she was an avid bridge player," he said, adding that she loved music.
Heath said the couple has three children: Anita Watson, who lives in Baltimore, Md.; Alfred Heath Jr., who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah; and Judith Heath, who lives in Maine.
They also have six grandchildren and are surrogate parents to three nieces, Ave Maria, Vickie and Andrea.
Heath said a funeral service is planned for Dec. 29 at Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral. John Thomas Memorial Chapel is handling the arrangements.
Condolences poured in from various community leaders.
Heath said he took great comfort in the outpouring of sympathy.
Schneider Regional Medical Center President and Chief Executive Officer Rodney E. Miller Sr. said that Heath was a very well-respected lady who was known throughout the territory for her love of education, as well as the numerous causes that kept her attention.
Delegate Donna M. Christensen said that Heath was a "very dear person who shared the good doctor's passion for life and accomplishment. I will always remember her warmth and her welcoming smile," Christensen said.
She added that Heath was very giving and always working for the betterment of the community.
Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone said that Heath's character reflected her commitment and contributions toward community service.
University of the Virgin Islands President LaVerne E. Ragster said that Heath was a steadfast supporter of the university and that Heath had served as a part-time instructor in the Humanities/Social Science division.
Gov. Charles Turnbull also sent his condolences.

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