D. Garth Hetz, age 81, passed away in his sleep on December 21, 2019. He was born in his parents’ home on Water Street in Fairview on October 2, 1938, the first born and only son of Clifford Burton Hetz and Estella Mae Lamb Hetz.
Garth was the grandson of Frank C. Hetz, the founder of Fairview Evergreen Nurseries, Inc., the family’s business established in 1911. Garth developed a strong work ethic while growing up working in the fields with the crews planting and harvesting the evergreens, flowering shrubs, and shade trees that would go on to beautify the landscapes of the nursery’s wholesale customers and their clients throughout the eastern and midwestern United States and Canada. He spent most of his long career as foreman of ‘Crew 2’, and as the company’s President/CEO and Chairman of the Board, until his retirement in 2003.
Garth was a 1956 graduate of Fairview High School, and the University of Chicago in 1960, where he was a philosophy major and a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. He served in the U.S. Army Reserves until 1967, earning a Sharpshooter commendation. He married Margaret (Peggy) McCall in 1962, soon became parents of Heidi, Hans and Hagan, and shared 57 years of their wonderful marriage. The family lived in the home they built on Water Street, situated on a hill overlooking the nursery pond and acres of Fairview Evergreen nursery stock.
Garth loved snowy winters during which he could cross country ski through the fields and woods surrounding his home every day. He enjoyed downhill ski trips with family and friends; tennis, and golf at Kahkwa with his sons and his Friday morning foursome. He and his sons could be found at most Erie Otters hockey games, including both of their championship-clinching overtime victories. To his delight, his grandchildren are very involved in the youth hockey scene in Erie. An avid sports fan, Garth was ecstatic to see his beloved Chicago Cubs finally win the World Series just a few years ago.
Over the years, Garth served on the Hamot Board of Corporators, The First National Bank Advisory Board, the Old Almshouse Cemetery Corporation, the Northwest Jaycees, and the Fairview Community Council. He served on the board of the Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association for many years and was a strong supporter of the Horticultural Research Institute.
He and Peggy have been long time patrons of the Planetary Society, the Erie Philharmonic, the Erie Art Museum, and the Erie Playhouse. In 1982 Garth guest-conducted the Philharmonic Orchestra, the opportunity provided by his closest friends who made up a group fondly known as The Herd. Garth enjoyed a wide spectrum of musical genres, with favorites spanning from Beethoven, Wagner and Bernstein to Rush.
In an ever more harried world, Garth always took time to appreciate the beauty of our ‘pale blue dot’, and to contemplate the wonder and mystery of the planets and stars, and of what lies beyond those visible to us in the night sky. To his wife he was the world, which they explored together hand in hand.
To his children he was a teacher, coach, boss, mentor, storyteller, philosopher, hero, friend, and most importantly, an incredible, caring and loving dad.
Garth is survived by his wife, Peggy; daughter, Heidi Zomnir (Rick); sons Hans-Erik Hetz (Amy) and Hagan Hetz (Kelly); and eight grandchildren, Michael Garth Zomnir (Alive Xiao), Chloe Zomnir (J. Rain Ellis), and Hali, Heath, Hyatt, Hollen, Harper and Henrik Hetz. He is also survived by three sisters, Janice Goff (Dan), Faith Rose (Tony), and Christine Hetz Phillips; and honorary sister, Rosario Mena Veras (Luis).
Garth was preceded in death by his parents, daughter in law Diane Hetz, and grandson Hayden Sawyer Hetz.
Friends may call at The Edder Funeral Home, Inc. 309 Main St. East, Girard, PA. on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019 from 1:00 - 4:00 and 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
A funeral service will be held at the Fairview Presbyterian Church, located at the corner of Water Street and Avonia Road on Saturday, at 10:00 a.m. on Dec. 28, 2019. Burial will be in the Fairview Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Planetary Society, 60 South Los Robles Ave., Pasadena, CA 91101-2016 (www.planetary.org
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