Lauren Heaton died on Sunday morning, July 28, 2019, of complications from heart surgery. She was 44.
Lauren Bales Heaton was born on June 21, 1975. She was a lifelong resident of Yellow Springs, OH. She graduated from Yellow Springs High School in 1993 and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carleton College in Minnesota in 1998, after completing a year abroad in Cameroon and France.
She battled with leukemia from 1996 to 2002, during which time she received a bone marrow transplant. A combination of traditional and holistic medicine saved her life, but the chemotherapy and radiation left her heart compromised.
She worked at the Yellow Springs News for 15 years as a reporter and associate editor.
Lauren and Kirk Weigand were married on May 27, 2006 and moved into a straw bale house they helped construct in February 2012.
Lauren received a heart transplant on July 5, but passed away July 28, 2019, due to complications from her transplant.
She is survived by her husband, Kirk; stepchildren, Anne, Robbie, Liam and Marya Weigand; her parents, Kazuko and Tim Heaton; sister and brother-in-law, Erika and Matt Grushon; and nephew and niece, Isaac and Vivian Grushon.
Many will miss her kind and genuine presence. She was and will continue to be a friendly spirit to all who knew her.
Lauren was a friend of the Bahá’í Community, member of the YS Oddfellows Lodge and a cellist in the YS Community Orchestra. She is pictured with her and Kirk’s beloved dog, Tucker, who was known to the community as “The News Hound.”
A memorial service to celebrate Lauren’s life will be at The Glen Helen Building Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, 10 a.m.–noon. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Chamber Music in Yellow Springs in Lauren’s honor.
Yellow Springs has lost a unique voice. Lauren Heaton was an award-winning reporter, columnist and photographer, as well as associate editor, at the paper for 15 years. At the News, Lauren’s curiosity and perspective as a native Yellow Springer intersected with her gift for writing.
Her association with the News goes back to her youth, when she was a paper carrier. She returned as a reporter in her early 20s in 2000 for Editor Robert Mihalek and went on to work closely as associate editor with subsequent Editor Diane Chiddister, until Heaton left the paper in 2015.
In addition to reporting and editing, she wrote two columns during her News career — “Pen and Squid Ink,” an exploration of her love of food and cooking, and “Middle Ground,” which showcased her characteristically fair-minded take on local politics and community issues.
She distinguished herself as a serious journalist with a healthy skepticism, tempered with a great sense of humor. Her discipline in striving for equanimity was a model to those with whom she worked. Above all, Heaton’s work was motivated by a her love for her hometown and a desire to see her community thrive.
Lauren’s skills in news-gathering and writing allowed her to produce a wide range of articles — from complex, data-driven investigations to lighthearted features that captured the spirit of those she interviewed. She cultivated strong relationships with sources and gained the respect of many in the community during her tenure.
She was honored with numerous awards for her writing and photography by the Ohio Newspaper Association, now the Ohio News Media Association, during her years as a journalist.
Most recently, her “Middle Ground” column took first place in the category of original columns in 2015. According to the judge, “Lauren Heaton’s columns are a great example of the critical role a local journalist plays in the news ecosystem.” In a 2014 second place showing in the same category, a judge commented, “Opinions are thoughtful without being judgmental or ‘holier than thou.’”
She won several awards for feature writing. Her 2011 article “Curating Legacy of American Writer” won first place in the Features category. The story, which focused on villager Arnold Adoff’s work to curate the work of his late wife, author Virginia Hamilton, “establishes the historical significance and legacy of Hamilton” in a way that “had an unusually wide range and depth,” a judge wrote.
She also won awards for photography; she was uniquely skilled at capturing poignant moments and framing shots from interesting angles.
As a member of the News editorial team, she was also honored for her writing as part of several in-depth series, including those on the 2008 closure of Antioch College, local policing, water, health, and more, along with numerous editions of the Guide to Yellow Springs.
Lauren also contributed to nine of the News “General Excellence” awards, the top prize for newspapers, awarded annually by the Ohio News Media Association.
At the Yellow Springs News, Lauren will be remembered for her love of fine cheese; her devotion to her dog, the late “News hound,” Tucker, her sparring “devil’s advocate” positions, and her graceful, joyful dancing at weekly impromptu staff dance parties celebrating the completion of yet another issue. Through its archives, she will continue to tell the community’s stories.