Well known Soddy Daisy resident Diana “Dee” Heath, a founding board member of the community’s first and only public library, died Sunday at age 73.
The widow of Benjamin E. Heath, Mrs. Heath moved with her husband to Tennessee from Ohio following their retirement.
“She was a feisty lady,” said Curtis Cecil, owner of KELKURT Media, a video production company which now shares quarters with Soddy Daisy Community Library. “She was the inspiration for all this. She was our first volunteer and a member of our founding board of directors. She definitely will be missed.
The library was far from Mrs. Heath’s first volunteer rodeo.
At Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, for example, both Mrs. Heath and her husband, who died in 2010, were regulars. Mrs. Heath worked in the commissary car on long-distance excursions, while Mr. Heath served as the train’s conductor.
Both were lifetime TVRM members.
Mrs. Heath was a supporter of a variety of other groups including, but not limited to, the YMCA, according to Mr. Cecil.
For example -- not surprisingly, since her husband was a U.S. Marne veteran of WWII who served in the liberation of Guam – she was active in veterans support groups.
In Soddy Daisy, Mr. Cecil said, she frequently dropped in at KELKURT – a self-described community driven company looking for ways to enhance the area in which it operates – for long talks.
Among her favorite topics, he noted, was the need for a library in the town to serve local residents.
“She read all the time,” Mr. Cecil recalled. “Mysteries were her favorite, and she also loved Gone With The Wind.”
“Rhett Butler,” he said with a laugh. “That was her man.”
Her enthusiasm gave him an idea: create KELKURT Foundation with the goal of organizing and teaching Soddy Daisy residents to become more self-sustainable focusing on three primary pillars: agriculture, community and education.
Then, for their first major project, original KELKURT Foundation board members – Mrs. Heath, June Ferry and Mr. Cecil – chose to create a library: a “second home” where residents of Soddy Daisy and surrounding communities could meet, talk, work and study together.
The resulting community library opened Jan. 28, 2018, with four books, Mr. Cecil said, “and Diana was our first volunteer. She was the one who entered the first 500 books into our data system. Then we piqued the interest of a local ebay book seller who donated 2,000 books to us – and Diana really had a lot of work to do.”
Today, the library occupies 76 percent of KELKURT Media’s operating space. It holds 22,000 movies, audiobooks and books – both children’s and adult, fiction and nonfiction – ranging from mysteries and classic literature, to agriculture, to religion, to business and finance. The history section alone covers local history, ancient Greek and Rome, the Civil War, World Wars I and II and a wide variety of other topics.
“Our whole mission is to create a self-sustainable community based on three factors: agriculture, community and education,” Mr. Cecil explained. “We offer classes, taught by volunteers, on raising chickens, off-the-grid living, sewing and quilting, jewelry making, basic auto repair and solar grids and panels.”
This summer, he said, the library will work with other organizations to host the town’s first-ever literacy day.
“But none of this would have happened without Diana,” he said. “Without her initial help and support, we could never have done it.”
Funeral plans have not been announced, but Mr. Cecil said Soddy Daisy Community Library will hold a rememberance service on Sunday, Feb. 23, from 2-5 p.m.
The service, which will take place at 9619 Dayton Pike, Soddy Daisy, in the library, will include a pot luck luncheon, he said. “Everybody who knew Diana is welcomed to bring a dish and share stories and memories of her life.”
For more information, contact Mr. Cecil at 645-7427.