Lomie Gray Heard, a 33-year resident of Payson, was born Jan. 22, 1906, in Carlsbad, N.M. After celebrating her 103rd birthday Jan. 22, she died of natural causes Feb. 5, 2009 in Payson. Her life story is inspiring to those she left behind.
She began her teaching career in 1925 in Los Luceros, N.M. in a one-room school with 16 children. She taught school in Lovington, Hobbs and Negra, N.M. She and her students saw Charles Lindbergh fly over their school in Negra on his way to Albuquerque, N.M.
After 16 years of summer school Miss Heard obtained her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1940, with minors in English, physical education, social studies and science. She received lifetime teaching certificates from both New Mexico and Nevada.
In 1944, she accepted a position at Jefferson School in Las Vegas, Nev. In 1950, she assumed the position of principal at that school. It was renamed Nellis AFB Elementary School in 1953, and then, in 1971 when she retired, faculty and parents signed a petition to change the name of the school to the Lomie Gray Heard Elementary School.
She moved to Payson to live with her sister and brother-in-law and traveled the world — visiting every continent except Antarctica.
She continued to educate children, tutoring in Payson until her 90th year.
On her 100th birthday in 2006, she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that she had seen two world wars, 18 presidents and Halley’s Comet twice.
Miss Heard was a 71-year member of the P.E.O.
She is survived by her younger sister, Catherine Sullivan of Payson; and numerous nieces and nephews in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Washington. On her 103rd birthday she got to hold her new great-great nephew, Tristan Hallett-King, who played with her other great-great-nephew Truitt Downey and great-great-niece Katy Gray Karcher.
Miss Heard was preceded in death by her parents, Allen Jackson Heard and Mable Elizabeth Gray Heard; brothers, Paul Top Heard, Jack Newton Heard and Hugh Tom Heard; sister, Nancy Heard Toudouze; brother-in-law, William Truitt Sullivan; sister-in-law, Julia Louise Watson Heard; and niece Martha Kay Korn.
Memorial contributions may be made to the P.E.O. Chapter DF, 406 S. Manzanita, Payson, AZ 85541.