On the afternoon of Saturday, January 7, 2023, we lost our beloved mother, daughter, sister, and aunt to cancer. She was able to die in peace at her home which was as she wished, with her sons, Derek Heine and Brady Combs; daughter, AnnaMarie Combs; sister, Rebecca (Jon) Steinbauer; and mother, Beverly Haugen at her side holding her hands in love and prayer.
Anita Michelle Heine was welcomed into this world on June 20, 1970, the first daughter and second child born to David Heine and Beverly Haugen. She was a beautiful baby and toddler who, to the dismay of her parents, stubbornly refused to grow any hair on her head until she was nearly three years old, but then thankfully sprouted two bouncing blond pigtails, exactly as happened with her own daughter, AnnaMarie Combs, nearly thirty years later!
Anita Michelle (AKA Nita, Neen, Neets, Buttercup, Skeeter, and Anita Michael, at various times in her life) grew up in Faribault, Minnesota along with younger sisters Jessie and Becky. She graduated in 1988 with academic honors from Faribault High School, having participated in the Gifted and Talented educational programs throughout grade school and high school. She furthered her education at Minnesota State University Mankato and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. Following that, she began her employment career with Federated Insurance Company in Owatonna, Minnesota. She attained the position of Systems Developer IV, and celebrated her 25 year anniversary with Federated on November 17, 2022. She truly enjoyed her work as it stimulated her extremely analytical mind, and she also cared for and appreciated her co-workers and her team. Federated Insurance, in an exceptional concession, made it possible for her to continue working from her home during her long illness up until the time of her death.
Nita was a devoted ferocious single mom to her three children, always encouraging and supporting them hands-on in their various activities and interests. Her love and caring also flowed to her sister Jessie and Jessie’s children, providing a home to them in troubled times. Her home was always open and welcoming to her kids’ friends as well for long or short term visits. Her generosity extended to the animal kingdom, and she was unable to ever turn away the stray and homeless kitties that her daughter AnnaMarie would bring to her door. She was a truly kind and caring person who believed in the best of all of us.
She excelled in the culinary arts, and loved cooking, grilling, and baking for her kids and her extended family. Asked to bring a dish to pass for a gathering, she would invariably arrive with the requested dish, a salad, a fruit bowl, a veggie tray, and dessert as well. Baking Christmas cookies was a marathon at Nita’s house; her Thumbprints, Nut Goody Bars, Lemon Bars and Sugar Cookies were renowned and fought over by her entire family! Although Nita could not manage to keep any indoor plant alive for more than two weeks, she loved outside gardening. Her flower gardens, numerous pots of plants she arranged every spring, and her raised vegetable gardens were a favorite warm weather activity. Planting and weeding, or as she said, “digging in the dirt” was restful, relaxing therapy to her, and she practiced that activity not only at her own home but at her sister’s and mother’s gardens as well.
Nita was an avid, voracious reader all her life, devouring hundreds and hundreds of books of every genre. A pleasant shopping expedition for her was perusing the aisles of Barnes & Noble on a weekend afternoon. Master of the 2500 plus piece jigsaw puzzle, Nita, her similarly talented daughter AnnaMarie, and sister Becky’s idea of a family visit would be to sit across a card table strewn with hundreds of odd shaped pieces of colored cardboard chatting, while casually snapping pieces together without hesitation – no staring at the piece while turning it, twisting it, sighing, or trying to force it into a likely looking (but wrong) spot.
We, her family, have lost a much loved and irreplaceable person, but she will live on in our hearts and in our memories until the time when we can all be together again. Until then we know she is our angel looking out for us from above, sharing our love and our lives, and above all, still part of our family.
Anita was preceded in death by her father, David Heine; paternal grandparents John and Anna Mae Heine, maternal grandparents Horace (Russ) and Marie Haugen; her brother Joseph Dorsey and her sister Jessica Heine. We know that they were all waiting to welcome her to her new heavenly home.
We extend heartfelt special thanks to the Allina Health Cancer Center doctors, nurses, and staff and also to Brighton Hospice for their exceptional love and care during Nita’s illness. Bless you all!
Flowers and plants at funeral services are beautiful and much appreciated, but if you wish, please direct memorials to causes that were special to Nita’s heart:
Plant a flower, a tree, support River Bend Nature Center, volunteer to help clean up the Cannon River
Contribute to programs for school music, youth sports and at-risk youth
Help animal shelters to rescue and care for pets in need.
Memorial services will be held on Wednesday, January 18, 2023 at 5:00 p.m. at the Parker Kohl Funeral Home & Crematory of Faribault with Bernadette Tatge, Pastoral Minister at Divine Mercy Catholic Church officiating.
Visitation will be held at the Parker Kohl Funeral Home & Crematory on Wednesday afternoon from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.