Deaths of Note

Published on January 28th, 2016 |


Buckhead’s Heiskell School founder, Miriam Heiskell, dies at age 97

Miriam Heiskell, who with her husband Jim developed one of the first Atlanta pre-schools in Buckhead around 1948, died Jan. 21 peacefully at home surrounded by three generations of her family.

Miriam Heiskell

Miriam Heiskell

She was born on Oct. 15, 1918 in Morristown, TN, to A. B. and Blanche (Proffitt) Waggoner and grew up in Maryville, TN, in a close-knit family with three brothers and 23 first cousins. It was a family that expected women and men to accomplish much and Miriam excelled at a young age.

An honor student at Maryville College, she transferred to the University of Tennessee where she graduated Cum Laude in 1940 with a double major in Child Development and Foods and Nutrition and began her teaching career after graduation.

On June 18, 1941, Miriam married James Moulten Heiskell in Maryville, at a ceremony officiated by her grandfather, a Presbyterian minister. Over the next seven years, Miriam moved 21 times, following her husband Jim who served in the defense industry and the U.S. Navy during World War II and settled into a career with the Coca-Cola Company after the war.

Five days after arriving in Atlanta in 1948, their eldest son Andy was stricken with polio. When his recovery was declared a miracle, the doctors told his young parents that he could go to first grade. To prepare Andy for school, Miriam started a play group which developed into one of Atlanta’s first preschools.

Encouraged by parents, Miriam and Jim eventually expanded the school into a regionally accredited educational institution that served two-year olds through 8th grade student and became

Miriam and husband James Heiskell in earlier years. Photo by the Northside Neighbor.

Miriam and husband James Heiskell in earlier years. Photo by the Northside Neighbor.

known as The Heiskell School.

The Heiskell School in Buckhead was the first in the nation to be honored by the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission for Meritorious Support of the 1976 bicentennial celebration.

During her long life Mrs. Heiskell received many honors, including one from the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge and the DAR Medal of Honor. She was also recognized as a distinguished alumna of Maryville College as well as the University of Tennessee.

Mrs. Heiskell was a trustee and founder of Mount Vernon Christian Academy, a trustee of the Atlanta Counseling Center and a board member of Education for Freedom. She was a life-long Presbyterian and proponent of Christian education.

In 2009, more than 500 parents, faculty, alumni and friends joined the Heiskell family at the Atlanta History Center to celebrate the school’s 60th anniversary. In 2014, the Heiskell School completed its service and closed after 65 years. James, her husband of 73 years, died the same year.

Mrs. Heiskell is survived by her four children: son Andy Heiskell and wife Pamela Cleaves of New York, NY, and Bonita Springs, FL; son Jim Heiskell and wife Connie of Atlanta; daughter Sally Lassiter and husband Ike of Hot Springs, NC; daughter Cyndie Heiskell of Atlanta, and by 12 grandchildren and 33 great-grandcildren.

The Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, Jan. 31 at H. M. Patterson & Son, Spring Hill Chapel at 2:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Evangelical Institute School of Biblical Training, Educate the Children, Project Mercy (.org) or College of the Ozarks.

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2 Responses to Buckhead’s Heiskell School founder, Miriam Heiskell, dies at age 97

  1. Marcy Eisenburg says:

    You never know how your influence spreads and affects others. I am certain that the elementary school at Landmark Christian School would have at the very least been delayed several years had it not been for the influence Myriam Heiskell had on a family (our) in desiring a Christ centered education for our children in south Fulton county. Mrs. Heiskell helped and encouraged us to convince the Landmark board of trustees to add the elementary grades to a thriving middle and high school. Her legacy will be played out in many places, especially at Landmark.

  2. Ethel Shockley says:

    My prayers are with the family. She was a wonderful lady. I learned more about teaching from her than all of my years of undergraduate and graduate training. She will be missed. I look forward to seeing her in Heaven.

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