Ernestine was born in Butterfield, Missouri to Ethel and Ernest DeFord. Her father, Ernest, was a bit of a renaissance man. His variety of business interests kept them traveling. The life of a "rolling stone" appealed to my mother. She was very close to her parents, most likely due to their itinerant lifestyle. The three of them were a unit. She received her assertiveness, positive attitude, and confidence from her father and from her mother's compassion, understanding, and sewing! Her love of music came from both parents. She played flute and sang in the choir. Our mother had a beautiful voice.
She graduated from Galt High School (Galt, CA) and received her Bachelor of Arts from San Jose State. Upon graduating, she became a stewardess for United Airlines. She flew the "the friendly skies" in DC3s during a time when flying was adventuresome and glamorous.
She met Stan Heywood at United. Three months after meeting they were married. Her father, a Methodist minister at the time, married them on January 4, 1948. They were married 72 years.
She raised four daughters. Traveled the world with her husband. Was involved in all of her children's school and extracurricular activities. Served as PTA president. Sang in semi-professional shows. In later years she was a member of the Clipped Wings, an organization for retired United Airlines flight attendants. She was very active in the Phoenix chapter of Clipped Wings. The chapter was involved in Special Olympics as well as raising funds for Valley Life, a local home for children with special needs. In her early nineties, she was also a volunteer for "Neighbors Who Care", driving elderly people to and from doctor appointments or taking in-home visitations to offer relief to caregivers.
She was a major influence in our family. She taught all of us (including her grandchildren) to take risks, be positive, not worry about what other people think, be kind, be honest, be true, and water ski. She and my father learned to water ski in their forties. They purchased a mobile home on Lake Berryessa in Napa, California where for twenty-odd years our family would congregate every summer and just be together.
She survived her four daughters, Sydney Engle, Jacklyn Stanton, Standra Harmon, Leslie Arampatzis, her seven grandchildren, and her ten great-grandchildren.
She was a wonderful mother and friend. We will miss her.