Joan Heitstuman

1924 - 2013


Joan Heitstuman

April 24, 1924 — Sept. 29, 2013

Longtime Walla Walla resident Joan Doherty Heitstuman passed to Heaven on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013.

Born April 24, 1924, in Pendleton to Irish immigrants Teresa Hurill Doherty and Patrick J. Doherty, Joan grew up on her parents’ sheep ranch outside of Pilot Rock, Ore., with her two sisters, Mary (Chvatal) and Agnes (Doherty).

In her young years, Joan loved the freedom of the ranch, coupled with the joy of dancing and music. At age 10, Joan’s father died, and the family moved to Walla Walla. She graduated from St. Vincent Academy and Walla Walla Business College.

Joan began a fulfilling, 30-year business career at First Federal Savings & Loan, now Banner Bank, and for those years she enjoyed serving her customers and was appointed assistant vice president.

She was devoted to her family, taking care of her mother, Teresa, until her death in 1975. She loved dearly her and eight nieces and nephews (the Chvatal and Doherty clans). Joan spent a great deal of time with her dear friends, including Evelyn Cochran. In them, her love and memory will live forever.

Of special significance in Joan’s life was her close relationship with her two sisters that lasted throughout her life. Many confidences, tears and laughter were shared over the telephone or a cup of coffee.

The next chapter in Joan’s life occurred when she married Albert Heitstuman on Aug. 21, 1976. Albert’s and Joan’s courtship lasted 23 years, as both cared for their respective mothers. Joan and Albert had a wonderful, loving 13-year marriage until Albert’s death in 1989.

She was a true, Irish woman with her red hair, green eyes and love of a good time. She was so very proud of her Irish descent. Whenever Irish music played, and it often did in her home, her laughter and dancing were infectious. She also enjoyed traveling to Ireland, Hawaii and especially vacationing at the Oregon Coast.

Joan was very devoted to her Catholic faith. Through her example, she amplified her gift of faith, not only to her nieces and nephews, but to all she had contact with. She will be celebrated for her open arms, warm heart and loving nature.

She was a charter member of Assumption Catholic Church in Walla Walla and was a member of Assumption Church women’s group through her 60-plus years in that church. She was a proud and honorary member of Catholic Daughters of America for 62 years, and was a member of the Walla Walla Grain Growers, Walla Walla Farm Bureau, the Walla Walla Country Club, and St. Mary’s Providence Hospital Service League.

For the last 13 years, Joan lived in the purgatory of Alzheimer’s disease. She had been watched over by her nephew, Joe Chvatal, and niece, Sharon Doherty Wahl. Grateful appreciation is extended to the loving staff at Ashley Manor Care, who also took such good care of Joan.

Preceding Joan in death were her parents, Patrick J. and Teresa Hurill Doherty; her beloved husband, Albert J. Heitstuman; her two sisters and brothers-in-law, Mary and Joe Chvatal, and Agnes and Con Doherty. She is survived by her eight Doherty and Chvatal nieces and nephews, Sharon Doherty Wahl, Mary Teresa Michael (Don), Charlie Doherty (Crystal), Pat Doherty (Diana), Patricia Chvatal, Marilyn Leonard (John Young), Janet Sims (Chuck) and Joe Chvatal; four Heitstuman nieces and nephews, John Heitstuman, Sheri Newman, Susan MacPherson and Nancy Bowers.

Rosary service will be recited at Chapel of Herring Groseclose Funeral Home on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, at 6 p.m. with Sister Helen Mason officiating. Her life will be celebrated at a Catholic Mass to be held at Assumption Church on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, at 10 a.m. with Father David Kuttner, celebrant. Memorial donations may be made to the Catholic Daughters of America Joan Heitstuman Memorial Fund or St. Vincent de Paul through Herring Groseclose Funeral Home. Family and friends are invited to sign the online guestbook at


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