Obituary – James Mark Heartsill

Published 12:02 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2023

James Mark Heartsill, 60, a resident of Highland Home, passed away peacefully in his home on Sunday, Dec. 3, while surrounded by his beloved family. Funeral services for James will be held at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 6, from the Chapel of Turners Funeral Home with Rev. Jim Looney and Rev. Bill Hendricks officiating. He will then be interred in the family cemetery, Heartsill-Cobb Cemetery, with Turners Funeral Home of Luverne directing. 

James was a proud graduate of Highland Home High School, and gleefully married his high school sweetheart, Kimmie, soon afterwards. He then attended JP Tech to earn his vocational degree in welding and went on to have a successful career in the manufacturing industry for many years. James certainly learned early on just how sharp the slings and arrows of life could be when he was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease in 1997. He faced that crisis with the same fortitude and grit that he faced every other obstacle thrown into his path. He refused to allow it to dictate the terms of his life and lived every single day to its fullest. He was eventually blessed by his “guardian angel,” Dyana Scrushy, who so generously and graciously donated one of her kidneys to James after he lost both of his. Both James and his family will be forever grateful to Dyana for the additional years she blessed them to have with him. He continued to be plagued by other health issues and medical problems for the remainder of his life, but he was the epitome of dignity and grace as he set a remarkable example for the rest of his family about how to handle any crisis in their own lives. His family could have asked for no better legacy than how he taught them to walk in his footsteps. 

James and Kimmie had five children together who they loved with all of their heart. The youngest, Winston, was their “surprise” baby who arrived in the summer of 1996 and James immediately formed an unbreakable bond with his youngest. There was no place that James was happier than when he was outside, and you could bet little Winston was going to be tagging along as soon as he could wobble on his own two feet! Whether it was more leisurely pursuits like hunting, fishing, or hanging out on the riverbank, or throwing himself into the hard work of gardening or plowing his fields in the heart of the summer, James was blissfully happy as long as he felt that warm sun on his face and could bask in all of the beauty God had given him. One of the most remarkable things James ever did was, despite fighting cancer, he was determined to build his dream home in the perfect place, which happened to be about an easy mile or so walk from the homes of all five of his children. And I don’t mean that he hired a contractor and told him what to build, oh no, James literally BUILT his dream home with his own two hands. From felling the trees to turn into lumber using a borrowed sawmill to putting up the walls and laying down beautiful hardwood floors, he did it ALL himself, with a little assistance from his sons (which means they just did exactly what he told them to do)! That dream home stands now as a remarkable reminder of what he could do when he set his mind to it and will always be a special and beloved memory for his family. 

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As should be obvious by now, family was everything to James. He considered them both his greatest joy and greatest accomplishment in his life. He found such love, comfort, and support in being near all of them that he simply radiated with it.  As special as his children were to him, like most grandparents, there was just nothing like those grandchildren. He was their beloved “Poppy” and they always knew that he was going to attend every single activity they were involved in for as long as he was able. He cherished every moment he was able to share with them. He was the rock the Heartsill Clan was built upon. Whether they needed their own personal contractor to handle issues at their houses, a ride when stranded on the side of the road, or directions when hopelessly lost, his children and grandchildren always knew he was only a phone call away. That kind of love and support can be rare in this cruel world these days, but his family thrived under that blessing and easily recognized just how fortunate they were. There aren’t enough words to describe how much he meant to all of them or how special he was, nor how much he will be missed by every life he touched. His loved ones will find comfort however in all of the cherished memories that will keep him alive in their hearts and minds for many more years to come, and in the knowledge that he is now fully restored, healthy, and whole in the arms of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

James was preceded in death by his father and stepmother, Richard “Gent” & Ruby Heartsill, and siblings, Dan Heartsill and Margaret Rose. He is survived by his children, Brandon (Savannah) Heartsill, Katrina (Tommy) Cobb, Chad (Robyn) Heartsill, Jamie (Brandon) Cobb, and Winston (Katie) Heartsill; grandchildren, Hannah Cobb, Olivia Scrushy, Logan Cobb, Peyton Heartsill, Caylee Heartsill, Collin Heartsill, John Raylan Cobb, Brayden Norris, Valerie Heartsill, Kendall Heartsill, Greyson Cobb, Addie Jane Cobb, Jacob Heartsill, Freya Heartsill, Baylor Heartsill, and Jackson “Jack” Cobb; mother & stepfather, Mae & Andrew Palmer; siblings, Teresa Reeves, Katie Burgans, Angela Miller, Jennifer Findley, and Andrew “Bobo” Palmer; his dear friend and mother of his children, Kimmie Heartsill; and a host of nieces, nephews, extended family members, and friends. 

Active pallbearers were Brandon Heartsill, Chad Heartsill, Winston Heartsill, Tom Reeves, Tommy Cobb, Brandon Cobb, and Andy Palmer. 

The family would like to extend their deepest gratitude to all those who stepped up and helped care for James when he needed them because they know how much he appreciated it from the bottom of his heart.