Jean “Ann” Heitzenrater Varner, of Woodsdale, Wheeling, WV, was called Home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on January 10, 2020, at Liza’s Place.
Born in DuBois, PA, on August 1, 1939, she was the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Paul (Grace) Heitzenrater.
Ann graduated from DuBois Area High School, was employed by the DuBois Deposit National Bank for several years, during which time she met Howard C. Varner, the Student Assistant Pastor of her local Presbyterian Church. They dated, became engaged and were married on September 1, 1961. With Howard having received a Call to a Church in Missouri, they moved there where Howard served as Pastor for six years. In this Pastorate, God blessed them with a baby girl and 22 months later, they received a baby boy. Shortly thereafter, another Call came from a congregation in Zanesville, OH, where Howard was a Pastor for 12 years and then to a Call from the First Presbyterian Church in Wheeling, WV, where Howard pastored for 15 years. Following retirement, he served the Third Presbyterian Church in Wheeling for nine years.
During all these years, Ann was a happy and fulfilled Christian woman, living her life as a faithful and supportive pastor’s wife and helpmate, as well as serving the Church wherever her talents were needed. She was a Sunday School teacher, active in the women’s groups, organized many Prayer Chains with as few as 15 people to as many as 150 participants, was a Youth Fellowship leader, was the accompanist for Children’s and Youth Choirs, was pianist for one congregation’s worship services and served on many committees.
Anonymously giving of herself to many individuals, was a way of life for Ann, and she never sought after praise, nor accepted any monetary reward for her love gifts. She was also a person of conviction for standing upon her Christian principles, morals, and ethics and was never hesitant to speak of these.
In communities where Ann lived, she was known for her cheerful volunteerism efforts; having served in various capacities at hospitals, nursing homes, schools, was a girl scout leader, did recruitment and public speaking on behalf of foster and adoptive children; was active in the American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Support Group.
While in Wheeling, together with her husband Howard, they began the Presbyterian expression of Worldwide Marriage Encounter in 1982, which has since merged with the Pittsburgh Area Presbyterian Encounter. Under their leadership as a clergy couple in the Ohio Valley, tri-state area, and throughout many cities of the East Coast area, they have led over 1,000 couples to a rebirth, rededication and recommitment of their sacred marriage vows to one another, and to God.
Ann was respected and honored as a loving wife. She was a full time, stay at home Mom, who was a strong Christian mother and role model to her children and a special and devoted grandmother to her grandchildren. She believed that the Family unit is of primary importance in life.
In addition to her parents, Ann was preceded in death by her loving husband, Reverend Howard C. Varner, after 53 years of marriage; two brothers, Samuel Heitzenrater of Williamsport, PA, and Paul Heitzenrater of Centennial, CO; and her sister-in-law, Margaret Varner of DuBois, PA.
Surviving are her daughter, Sharon Winefordner and her husband Dean, of Charleston, WV; her son, Jay Varner and his wife Patty; along with her granddaughter, Katherine Ann Varner; and grandson, Reuben Howard Varner of Atlanta, GA; her sister-in-laws, Mildred Heitzenrater of Centennial, CO, Margaret Heitzenrater of Williamsport, PA; and her brother and sister-in-law, James and Linda Varner of Hornell, NY.
Honoring Ann’s wishes, her body was donated to the Human Gift Registry of West Virginia University, for the advancement of medical research and education.
A Memorial Service will be held at the Grace Presbyterian Church of Martin’s Ferry, OH, on January 20, 2020, at 10:30 a.m., with Reverend William O. Webster and Reverend Michael O’Neil officiating.
Personal condolences may be offered to the family at www. kepnerfuneral.com, with memorials being suggested to the First Presbyterian Church, 1307 Chapline St. Wheeling, WV, 26003; or the American Cancer Society, 122 S. High St. Morgantown, WV, 26501.