Lois Marie Heying thumbnail

Lois Marie Heying

October 23, 1944 - February 23, 2023

Lois Marie (Dargen) Heying


October 23, 1944 – February 23, 2023


May you find solace in time of need, intellect and creativity to live a compassionate life, and forgiveness of self and others to extend and deepen your circle of caring.
(Lois Heying – note in card for son Ben, February 23, 2005)


Lois Marie (Dargen) Heying was born October 23, 1944, in Washington DC and was raised in Hopkins, Minn. in the loving home of Verna and Lyle Dargen. She graduated from Guardian Angels High School in Chaska, Minn. where she was in Drama Club and Junior Class President. In 1966, she received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Education from Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska. While at Creighton, she helped found the Student Organizing Committee, and as a Resident Advisor, contested inequitable disciplinary and visitation policies for women.


In the summer following her graduation, Lois lived with six other volunteers in a racially changing neighborhood in Omaha. Directed by Father Pat McCaslin, pastor of Cathedral Parish, the women worked as community organizers to encourage positive neighborhood transition.


During the next year, she taught English and Drama at the St Francis High School on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. It was an eye-opening experience as she learned from her students of the trials and joys of reservation life. Her love of theater inspired her students. Their performance of the one-act play “The Skin of our Teeth” won the regional competition and, for the first time ever, St Francis students participated in the state competition.


Lois and Charles were married in Omaha, Nebraska, June 6, 1967. Charles joined the Teacher Corps, and they moved to Cleveland, Ohio. Upon arrival, Lois applied for a job with Cleveland Public Schools, requesting an inner city position. She was immediately hired to teach English and Literature at Addison Jr High School. It was a difficult assignment as the neighborhood had been devastated by previous summer’s racial uprising. After one semester, she was required to resign because Cleveland School Board policy did not allow pregnant women to teach in public schools.


The years that followed brought the grace and struggle of a growing family. Corrina was born April 1968, Cleveland, Ohio; Kristin, July 1969, St Paul, Minn.; and Benjamin, February 1971, Wisconsin Rapids, Wisc.


Summer 1971, the family returned to West Union, Iowa, purchasing an acreage outside of Charles’ hometown. But the many moves and transitions had taken their toll. Lois suffered post-partum depression that deeply affected her and her young family. Following her month-long hospital treatment, Lois and Charles resolved that healing would come with more stability and efforts to overcome the social isolation of child rearing.


A return to community activities aided Lois’ recovery. Over the next seven years, Lois helped organize a women’s group that successfully lobbied the Iowa State Legislature to bring public television to Northeast Iowa. She co-founded the summer Art in the Park Program that included performances and workshops by regional artists, puppeteers, and crafters. With seven other families, they formed the amazingly productive Strawberry Co-op. Lois was also politically active, serving as Democratic precinct chair and delegate to the state convention. Through her political contacts, she became involved with the Migrant Worker Project, an attempt to establish a migrant worker-owned truck farm in Northeast Iowa.


As the children entered school, Lois began working as Assistant Activity Director at the Fayette County Care Facility. Her children remember participating with residents at many dances and events but especially remember being served white bread sandwiches and kool-aid, something they rarely got at home. Lois helped residents form the Sunshine Band. Their decorated yellow bus became a familiar sight as they traveled to performances at nursing homes and similar venues around the area.


Her work and volunteer experiences inspired Lois to consider a professional career in Occupational Therapy. In 1980, Lois, Charles, and their three teenage children, moved from their small farm community in Iowa to Los Angeles, California where she began her graduate studies at the University of Southern California. During her studies, she was fortunate to participate in an advanced Sensory Integration work/study course with A. Jean Ayres who developed sensory integration testing and treatment techniques. This proved to be a seminal experience for Lois’ future practice. Lois also interned at the USC/Los Angeles County Hospital psychiatric unit under the mentorship of Director, Claudia Allen.


Lois was awarded a Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California in 1983. Her thesis, “Cognitive Disability and Activities of Daily Living in Persons with Senile Dementia” was synthesized as a chapter in Claudia K. Allen’s textbook, Occupational Therapy for Psychiatric Diseases: Measurement and Management of Cognitive Disabilities.  Lois’ research contributed to the standardization of the Allen Cognitive Level Assessment for patients with dementia. The ACL assessment continues to be widely used in Occupational Therapy and Social Work practice.


The years in Los Angeles were a time of growth and adventure for the family as they participated at St Raymond’s Parish under the pastoral leadership of Fr. Dave O’Connell (later auxiliary bishop) in social outreach with the Catholic Worker project – Justice Bakery – and with many trips to support a church-affiliated orphanage and its surrounding neighborhood in Tijuana, Mexico.


After graduation, Lois and family returned to the Midwest. She worked for a year at Gillette Children’s Hospital in St Paul, Minn. and then, returning to their Iowa home, she worked as an early intervention therapist for the Keystone Area Educational Agency. During the next three years she did double duty as a therapist and mother of three high school/college children while her husband was a resident graduate student at Iowa State University.


In 1986, the family moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina where her husband began his doctoral studies. Over the eight years in practice there, Lois rose to the rank of Senior Occupational Therapist working in the Child Psychiatry Unit at the University of North Carolina Hospitals. There she developed a Learning Garden program in cooperation with NC Botanical Gardens that was recognized in an article in National Geographic Magazine and featured on CNN. She also collaborated with recreational therapy to develop a Child/Animal Interaction program and protocol for hospital pet visitation.


In 1995, the family made its final move to Portland, Oregon where her husband accepted a faculty position at Portland State University. Lois completed her Occupational Therapy career working in Portland Public Schools as a member of the Portland Early Intervention Program. There, and throughout her working career, she focused on Sensory Integration assessment and practice. She worked with children experiencing developmental delays using craft, play, and other adaptive interventions to help them improve motor control and sensory regulation.



In Portland, Lois and Charles joined St Andrews Catholic parish where they volunteered to mentor couples preparing for marriage. Later they joined St Francis of Assisi Catholic parish where they volunteered at the dining hall and day center for the unhoused. In the spirit of the Catholic Worker model, Lois worked alongside those in need to prepare, serve, and share meals.


Lois retired from OT practice in 2010, finally having time to redesign/remodel their home with attention to accessibility issues. This proved prescient as she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Lewy Body Dementia in 2017. Lois met her disease with grace and determination, continuing to the end her interest in arts and crafts. She covered tables with leaves she would pick up on her walks with family and caregivers. Several years before she died, she completed the last project she was able to fully engage with; designing and sewing corn bags that were sold at an auction to support St. Francis Dining Hall.


Lois loved camping, especially the many holidays and trips spent with her mother and her sisters’ families. There they followed the special rituals of outdoor cooking and the gathering of dried flowers and leaves for arrangements. Lois treasured visits with her mother, and wherever Lois moved she sought out the friendship and wisdom of an older woman, a grandma close by.


Lois was an avid reader maintaining some of her ability until the end. In the years after retirement, she enjoyed the work of Louise Erdrich, Hilary Mantel, Brian Doyle and Mary Oliver. She was a collector of children’s books from her favorite classic, A Hole Is To Dig, to the more contemporary Pete the Cat, I Love My White Shoes. Her go-to gift to families with young children was a well-chosen book.


Lois loved animals, there was always a lost cat or unsheltered dog to take in. She was an excellent seamstress, sewing many of her young children’s clothes, a skill she learned from her mother.

Gardening was an essential part of Lois’ life. She was an early advocate of organic gardening and nutritional cooking. Familiar texts from that era were Adele Davis’ Lets Cook it Right and the More with Less Cookbook. With her young children she baked bread, made applesauce, brined pickles, canned tomatoes, and perfected the recipe for her much loved hot-pepper green beans – all from produce harvested from their garden. Her interest in new gardening techniques never waned. In retirement, she took courses in sustainable and low-maintenance gardening. The landscaping and gardens at her Mt. Tabor home became a source of connection to people she met as they walked by and admired her beautiful work.


During her retirement years, Lois lent her support to the Save our Reservoirs effort and to Café au Play, a nonprofit founded by her daughter, Kristin, to overcome the social isolation of child rearing. Lois served on the organizing committee for the Mt. Tabor community garden. Besides maintaining her own garden space, she volunteered with the Produce for People workgroup to tend several plots whose produce was delivered to local food pantries.


Lois died late evening February 23, 2023, in her home with family at her side. Lois and Charles had been married for 57 years. She had been living courageously with Parkinson’s and Lewy Body Dementia for six years. During her final week, she was cared for by her sisters Lucy and Alice, her children Corrina, Kristin and Ben, and her grandchildren Emma and Sophia. She was comforted by neighbors and friends who visited her bedside and provided meals and support to the family. It was a time of physical care, evening singing and stories, resolving tensions, doing our best to make her and our transition healing and hopeful.


The family is deeply grateful for the love and support of friends and family, for the compassion and attention of her in-home caregivers, and for the outstanding care of her Providence care team and Providence Hospice services.


Lois is survived by her husband Charles Heying of Portland, Ore; daughter and son-in-law, Corrina and Nathan Halstead of Minnetrista, Minn; daughter Kristin Heying of Portland, Ore; son and daughter-in-law Ben Heying and Danielle Zacherl of Fullerton, Calif; sister and brother-in-law Lucy and Rudy Anderle of Brooklyn Park, Minn; sister and brother-in-law Alice and Timothy Thoresen of Springfield, Ohio and by four grandchildren Emma and Hans Halstead, Sophia Heying-Sullivan, and Amelie Heying. Lois was preceded in death by her parents Verna and Lyle Dargen.


The memorial service will be held at Schlatter Chapel on Saturday March 25, 2023 at 1:00 pm. A reception/lunch will follow in Kardatzke Hall from 2:15-4:30 pm. Both are located on the Warner Pacific University Campus, 2219 SE 68th Ave., Portland, Oregon. Link to Campus Map. Parking is available next to the Chapel and throughout the campus.


Cards may be sent to Holman’s Funeral Services, 2610 SE Hawthorne Blvd. Portland OR 97214. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to any of the charities below or to a charity of your choice.


White Buffalo Calf Women’s Society

Friends of Portland Community Gardens

Catholic Charities of Portland – Immigration Legal Services

Service Information

Service Information

Date: Saturday, March 25, 2023

Time: 01:00 pm

Schlatter Chapel at Warner Pacific University


2219 SE 68th Ave.
Portland, Oregon 97215

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