PEARL HECKMAN (nee Ivan) age 99 was born on January 6, 1921 and passed away on January 9, 2020.
Pearl Lenke Ivan was a late addition to a Hungarian family in Garfield Heights. Joseph and Rose Ivan allowed their teenaged daughter, Irene, to name the baby after her favorite movie heroine, Pearl White, action star of the 1910s. Of course, her parents and brother, Elmer loved her deeply, and Irene adored the young Pearl far more than the silver screen legend. In her later years, when Pearl would be reminded of the past she would shake her head and fight back a tear: “Oh, how my sister loved me.” As middle-aged women, Irene proved her love, and Pearl showed herself a worthy serial queen namesake when the two were accosted by a would-be mugger after a shopping trip. It was only after thoroughly beating the fellow over head with their purses and chasing him away, that they thought to start screaming. Pearl’s self-sufficiency would show itself again and again throughout her 99 years. After graduating from Garfield Heights High School in 1939, she entered the Lutheran Hospital School of Nursing, and immediately thereafter enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps hoping to see the world. Instead, she spent the war at the Nichols Army Hospital in Louisville, KY, repeatedly adding her name to the list of nurses to be sent overseas only to have it erased by her supervisor who couldn’t run the ward without the caring and reliable Pearl. As 1st Lieutenant, Pearl was devoted to her work with paraplegic soldiers. She also described herself as the host of many fabulous parties held in the barracks, at which she was industrious in turning her bed on its side to create a sturdy bar. Even as a long-retired octogenarian, Pearl would continue making her “rounds,” bringing newspapers, medicines, and food to her ailing neighbors in Richmond Heights and her lifelong friends, fellow nurses Muriel and Audrey Carter, who predeceased Pearl by a dozen years. Pearl met the Carter sisters and good friend, Sybil Dobransky in her job at Polyclinic Hospital where she was Head of OB and later, Director of Nursing. At Polyclinic she also met Doctor Lauri Koskela, whom she married in 1947. Their marriage may have been somewhat brief, but it resulted in Pearl’s loving daughter, Laura who has lived with Pearl in her home for the last few years. Pearl has always loved children, and took great joy in spending time with Laura and her cousins, Louisa, Hilda, Joe, and Jim when they were little, taking them to baseball games or swimming at Lake Plata. Pearl was as generous with her things as she was with her time—in fact, you had to be careful not to express too much interest in her stuff, lest you hear, “You like that? You can have it.” In 1967 she married George Heckman and took care of him—and his many guns—until his death in 2002. Pearl cherished her parents, whom she would visit every afternoon for coffee (while sneaking a beer to her father). Her coffee habits persisted, and she spent the past several decades drinking cup after cup and dishing the news of the day with her neighbor and best friend, Rose Montali. Pearl and Rose would watch television together, and enjoyed following their viewing with a hot dog, the culinary preference of their favorite TV detective, Matlock. Pearl loved Rose’s children, Joanna, Jillian, Jenna, and Will, who, although half a century younger than Pearl, counted her among their dearest friends and fiercest Uno opponents. After finally promising her granddaughter, Jenny, that she would stop climbing ladders, Pearl settled into her 90s solving crossword puzzles, correctly identifying television movie villains, eating cake for breakfast, and steadfastly refusing to give in to any of her ailments. She passed away peacefully surrounded by family and friends on January 9, 2020 and is survived by her daughter, Laura Dennison, granddaughter, Jennifer Fleeger, and great-grandchildren Irene Klapper and Hugo Fleeger.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in memory of Pearl to the Wounded Warrior Project and the Arthritis Foundation.
A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, January 18, 2020 at 11AM at Bethany Covenant Church, 5120 Ridgebury Blvd., Lyndhurst, OH 44124. Burial following at Lakeview Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to the charity of your choice.Donate [https://funeraldonations.makemydonation.org/7255/pearl-heckman?r=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.dejohnfuneral.com%2Fpear-heckman%2F]