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Foster Eugene Heath Sr.


owner of Heath Funeral Chapel, Lakeland, Florida, died April 14, 2012, at age 92. Heath served in the Coast Artillery Corps in Antigua, British West Indies, and then in the U.S. Air Force in Europe. In 1944, he was a tail gunner on a B-17 (305th Bomber Group) and was shot down, spending the next 11 months as a prisoner of war. He received the Purple Heart, complementing other honors for his military service. After the war, Heath earned a degree in mortuary science from the University of Minnesota and subsequently a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Florida Southern College, graduating in 1949. He worked for several years in St. Petersburg before moving back to Lakeland and working for Sherwin-Williams as a bookkeeper. He opened Heath Funeral Chapel in 1959, which is still managed by son-in-law Bill. Heath was a chapter chairman of the American Red Cross for two years, a member of Polk County Funeral Directors Association, Florida Funeral Directors Association, Independent Funeral Directors of Florida and NFDA. He is survived by daughter Caroline, son Foster Jr. and four grandchildren.