Charles (Chuck) Heath, age 90, died September 5, 2012.
Chuck was born near Sapulpa, Oklahoma on September 7, 1921 to Connie Clifton Heath and his wife Keren Boyd Heath. His birthplace was a little house on a remote oil pumping station of the Oklahoma Pipeline Company where his father was employed as a “stationary engineer”.
Chuck spent his youth in Oklahoma, during the time of the Great Depression. He graduated high school and began college but when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Chuck enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served four years in the Marine Corps, most of the time aboard the USS Charleston, deployed in the North Pacific.
After the war while at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC, he met Betty Rose Abernathy, a fellow student from Shelby. They married and moved to Decatur, Illinois where Chuck was employed by Illinois Power Company, in their gas division.
Chuck Heath first came to Shelby in 1954. Natural gas service had recently become available in the Carolinas, and when Chuck learned the City was looking for someone to manage their new natural gas system he applied and was readily accepted. He became the City’s first Gas Superintendent and ran all aspects of the gas system construction and operations.
His expertise in natural gas played a role in convincing Pittsburgh Plate Glass to locate their new plant in Shelby. As the PPG official later explained, “Heath was the key man in guiding the decision to locate in Shelby… he was the only man we found anywhere who knew anything about gas.”
Chuck was also very active in community affairs. In 1957 the Shelby Junior Chamber of Commerce named him “Young Man of the Year” and presented him with the Distinguished Service Award for his many contributions to the community.
After several years working with the City, Chuck realized that other small gas systems would need a knowledgeable natural gas consultant. To meet this need, he left the City’s employment and founded Heath and Associates, Inc.
Heath and Associates has since served many public and private gas utilities across the United States, for 53 years. State and local governments engaged the company to help stimulate economic development, and Chuck traveled abroad with Governors and other state officials as a fuel advisor to assist with industrial recruitment efforts. Chuck is remembered for his innovative solutions, a winning and convincing personality, and for his no nonsense consulting advice. Chuck developed many lifelong relationships in his professional and personal life. The success of Heath and Associates over the years has been mainly due to Chuck Heath’s foresight and expertise in natural gas. During the 1990’s Chuck phased into retirement, leaving the business in the hands of his sons, Scott and Brian.
Chuck studied political science in college but it was during World War II that he realized what a great system of government we have. Determined to make more people aware of our great free enterprise system Chuck dedicated many years to this service. He authored five books, published many essays, and gave many speeches. In 1964 his essay, “Government: Friend and Foe,” won the National First Place Essay Award from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge. He won other honors and awards and was included in various biographical publications such as Who’s Who in American Politics.
Chuck Heath is probably as well-known for his work in politics as for his career in the natural gas industry. In his own words, “While the field of natural gas has been my vocation, politics has been my education and my life-long avocation.”
Chuck was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Dorotha Heath Salter.
Survivors include a daughter, Janice Heath Chuk, Alameda, CA; son, Brian Heath and wife Kim Martin Heath, Charlotte and their three sons, Neal Heath and wife Lauren Oliver Heath, Nashville, TN, Dan Heath and wife Jessica Woody Heath and baby Hannah Heath, Charlotte, and Connor Heath, Charlotte; son, Scott Heath and wife Angela Nalley Heath, Shelby, and their two daughters Hadley Heath, Washington, DC and Amanda Lake Heath, Shelby; his nephew Mark Heath Salter, High Point, NC.
Funeral Services for Charles (Chuck) Heath will be held Saturday, September 8, 2012 at First Baptist Church, Shelby, NC. The family will receive friends at 1:00 p.m. at the church in the ladies parlor and services will follow at 2:00 p.m. Memorial gifts may be made to the NC Foothills Marine Corps League, P.O. Box 2004, Shelby, NC 28151 or to the Cleveland County Hospice, 951 Wendover Heights Drive, Shelby, NC 28150.
Cecil M. Burton Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the family of Mr. Heath.