David E. Heath was born in Providence, R.I. on March 2, 1938 to Erwin L. and Evelyn L. (Morrissette) Heath; and died on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at age 77. He is survived by his sisters Carolyn Heath of Quartz Hill, California, Sally McAllister of Hampden, Maine, Thelma Berthel of Alton, New Hampshire, nieces Dona Kozash and Diane Momberger and nephew Daniel McAllister, three grand-nephews, two grand-nieces and a great grand-niece.
David graduated Mt. Pleasant High School in 1956. Shortly thereafter, he joined the United States Air Force. Unfortunately, following basic training, Airman Heath contracted viral pneumonia. Several bouts with the illness caused David to need part of his left lung removed which ultimately ended his military career possibilities. After a year long recovery from the major surgery, Mr. Heath was given an honorable discharge. Throughout his life, however, planes, jets, air shows, along with movies and documentaries about them remained of great interest to him.
Upon returning home to Rhode Island, David took employment as a truck driver which had been his occupational choice since boyhood. Because of the partial left lung, however, Dave could not pass a union physical. So in the subsequent 40+ years, he drove for a number of non-Teamster companies as well as having some years as an owner-operator. These factors made his way a bit tougher, but Dave never gave up. He drove under very strenuous conditions which in turn caused him a number of maladies over the years. When 95% blockage in his main artery was diagnosed, David's four doctors told him he had to take a medical disability and they jointly wrote the recommendation letter to the state. It was approved just shy of the traditional retirement age.
Though never married, Mr. Heath lived a very full life as a dedicated professional truck driver. Over the years, David saw many interesting sites in the 48 contiguous United States as he drove. During any down time while awaiting loads, he took advantage of his proximity to various American attractions including vehicle races from midgets to big rigs and his favorite NASCAR events.
Over the years, when off the road, Dave enjoyed and erected to perfection building projects. He raised the family camp, dug out and bricked in a full basement; plus put electrical and plumbing fixtures in the rustic Maine property. He also built a two story barn/garage by the camp; and built a "more than sturdy" accessory building beside his home in R.I.
On the not so pleasant side of his profession, David also had some pretty serious road condition / weather-related incidents. The worst was on the Connecticut Turnpike in 1970. That particular one was a multi-vehicle and multi-fatality accident. "But for the grace of God", attention to the circumstances and quick reflexes, enabled Dave to turn his 18 wheeler down into the median to avoid hitting the two tractor trailers in front of him that were already bursting into flame; when yet another gasoline tanker behind him hit those in front. Mr. Heath had to climb out through the missing windshield. Fortunately, some Good Samaritans helped to drag him away from the approaching fuel and fire. Everything burned so badly that the remains of all 4 trucks plus two cars fit into about a 50'X50' section of the salvage yard.
In his early adulthood, Mr. Heath's folks suggested there was no need for him to pay rent or mortgage on a place that would be empty the bulk of each month. So since his employment kept him on the roads more than at home, other than his time in the USAF and a few years in Arizona, David Heath lived the balance of his life at the family home in Providence. It had been his parents' and maternal grandparents before him, then became his.
Mr. Heath was a regular communicant of St. Anthony of Padua parish, frequently serving as usher after his retirement. He was a good person, a loyal friend and an exceptionally devoted son. No person ever took care of their parents as well as Dave did. When not on the road, David helped his parents to maintain their property. After his disability declaration, which coincided with his mother's declining years, he did everything including taking her for doctor appointments, shopping, banking errands and more. While caring for his Mom and in the years since, David began to enjoy watching and participating in TV game shows to keep his memory keen and mind active.
His legacy is that he was a truly honest man never compromising his character nor beliefs.
A wake will be held at Gallogly & Sons Funeral Home at 78 Providence St. in West Warwick on Monday from 5-7 p.m. before a Mass of Christian burial at St. Anthony Church on Plainfield St. Providence on Tuesday at 10 a.m. followed by interment at St. Ann's Cemetery in Cranston, R.I. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations to: The American Lung Association, Veterans Support Organization of New England; and Paralyzed Veterans of America.