Renate Regina Sanden Heaton, 75, Ashland Educator For 33 Years, Finalist for Massachusetts Teacher of the Year

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HOPKINTON – Renate Regina Sanden Heaton, 75, of Hopkinton, died peacefully Tuesday, December 1, 2020, with her husband Don, and her daughter, Jennifer virtually at her side after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Born in Germany on September 30, 1945, she was the daughter of Waltraud (Bessel) and Heinz Sanden of Ashland.

Renate graduated from Ashland High School Class of 1964 and Northeastern University Class of 1970. 

She taught middle school and junior high school students in Ashland Public Schools for over 33 years.

She was married to her loving husband Donald Slade Heaton, on June 16,1968.

Renate’s early childhood was in Germany. Her family immigrated to the United States where she entered grammar school speaking little English. She quickly made life-long friendships and went on to become an honor roll student at Ashland High School.

Upon entering Northeastern University, she majored in English and, upon graduation, taught English to junior high school students and later fifth-grade students in the Ashland Schools for 33 years. She was recognized as an innovative and inspired teacher. Her classroom was always filled with creative projects and she was committed to helping each student do his or her very best academically. She took pride that all the students in her class were “a family” helping each other learn.

Renate was a finalist for Massachusetts Teacher of the Year and was named to Who’s Who Among Teachers.

She was recognized by students and fellow faculty for her dedication and extraordinary ability to help her students in academics and in life. She often shared the cherished memories of her classes and all the young people who made such an impact on her life.

Renate touched many lives with her compassionate heart, deep listening, intuitive wisdom and effervescent humor. Renate enjoyed people and, even through her illness, she always had a kind word or offer to help others. She loved traveling and outings with her daughter, Jennifer and husband Don. Her granddaughter, Amanda, became a significant focus of her life after retirement from teaching.

Her husband, Don, was the love of her life.  They were best friends from their teenage years at Ashland High School and recently celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary. Don and Renate enjoyed socializing with long time good friends and family. They frequently vacationed at Cape Cod, New Hampshire and Sanibel Island. One of their favorite family sayings was, “Make wonderful memories.”

Besides her husband, Renate is survived by her daughter, Jennifer Heaton Fields, husband Michael, and granddaughter Amanda Grace Heaton Fields of Grafton, MA. She also leaves behind beloved family members Richard H. Heaton and his wife, Jean, of Bolton, MA; Beverly Heaton Kimball and her husband, Russell, of Eastham, MA; and Nancy Heaton Lonstein and her husband Jeffrey, of Westborough, MA, along with many nieces, nephews, and dear friends.                   

The family wants to extend its heart felt thank you to the caregivers at The Beaumont, Westborough and Whitney Place, Natick.  Special thanks to her loving friend Ginny Muchaka of Milford who has been by her side providing companionship and support for several years.

She was a member of the Westborough United Methodist Church, and as a youth she was an active member of The Grace Congregational Church in Framingham where she and Don were married.

In lieu of flowers or traditional funeral services, donations in Renate’s memory may be made to a charity of choice. 

The family will hold a celebration of Renate’s life and a private family graveside internment at the Wildwood Cemetery in Ashland led by Matarese Funeral Home of Ashland. 

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