A Life Lived: Patye Heaton’s can-do attitude helped her excel as a nurse and mother

Published 12:06 pm Tuesday, May 25, 2021

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Patye Church Heaton was one of those people who was just brave enough, smart enough, and stubborn enough to prove if you wanted to do something bad enough, success would follow.
Patye enjoyed a long career in nursing, first working at Sycamore Shoals Hospital Birthing Center for 10 years, then at Johnson City OBGYN, and later at Medical Care of Elizabethton, and the Carter County Health Department, from which she retired.
However, nursing was not her first choice as a career. Patye wanted to be a mechanic, but her dad sort of helped push aside that notion by telling her women could not be mechanics. She then decided to pursue a career in nursing – it would take the least amount of schooling and would be a reliable job with a good income.
However, Patye’s can-do attitude made a handy fix-it person out of her as she could do plumbing and electrical work and had the tools to do it with (and she probably did some mechanic work if the truth was known.)
Patye was encouraged to go back to school and get her B.S. and Master’s degrees in nursing by Doctors Brenda Crowder and Brent Lang, with whom she worked. It wasn’t easy to go back to school, work, care for a husband and six children, and help her mother with chores such as gardening and shopping.
“I finally convinced her to give up work and study full-time,” said her husband, Greg, a truck driver by trade.
“She was a good nurse and well-respected by her peers. But, she was good at most things she did,” her husband said with pride.
“Patye was a very confident person at 97 pounds and only 5 feet, one inch in height. At one time, before we met and married, she was going to nursing school, raising three kids, and working three part-time jobs. She had determination and grit,” Greg shared.
When she worked at the health department, she traveled to Mountain City every Wednesday to see patients there.
Patye was the daughter of Gordie and Christine Church and was one of four children. Her father was retired from the U.S. Army and worked for a time at the Carter County Sheriff’s Department. So, her toughness came naturally.
Patye was an avid reader, and a fast reader. “She could read a book in an afternoon,” said Greg. She also enjoyed piecing quilts and quilting and cooking. “She cooked the old-time way – the way her mother did – soup beans and cornbread, fried potatoes, etc. She did not eat meat,” said Greg.
At the time of her illness, Greg said Patye had bags and bags of quilting material and cotton batting.
Patye also enjoyed woodworking and refinishing old pieces of furniture. “She had several old rockers stored in a barn, which she planned to re-do during her retirement, but God had other plans for her,” Greg shared.
“She was one talented person. She could do anything she set her mind to,” Patye’s husband lovingly said of his wife.
“She was independent, firm, and at times could be blunt. If something was hard, she saw it as a challenge. She never gave in,” Greg said.
Patye also had 14 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
She was a long-time member of Valley Forge Christian Church.
Regardless of the grit and determination that marked Patye Church Heaton’s life, she believed that with a can-do attitude and by working hard, success would come. She proved it so.
Patye died May 11 and was laid to rest in the Walnut Mountain Cemetery next to her mother and father, who were not able to give everything she wanted – but gave her what she needed most – love, support, and that can-do attitude.

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