Heathcock Genealogy Database - Person Sheet
Heathcock Genealogy Database - Person Sheet
NameMabel Ruth Sims
Birth25 Feb 1938, Shamrock, Wheeler Co TX1 Age: 85
FatherRoy Sims (1913-1988)
MotherMary Alabam Banks (1916-2009)
Birth22 Aug 1936 Age: 86
FatherJames Lyle Holmes (1911-1972)
MotherVirginia M. Thomas (1913-1997)
ChildrenValinda Jan (1954-)
Birth21 Jul 1936, San Antonio, Bexar Co TX Age: 86
MotherFrances Elizabeth Lay (1915-1994)
Marriage6 Sep 1957, Houston, Harris Co TX
DivorceMar 1973, Marin Co CA2
ChildrenCheryl Lynn (1958-)
 Barbara Sue (1959-)
 Steven Wayne (1961-)
 Rebecca Ann (1963-)
Birth23 Jun 1931, Brunsum, Holland
Death15 Jun 2011, Rancho Bernardo, CA Age: 79
Marriage1 Feb 1974, Garberville, Humboldt Co CA3
Notes for Mabel Ruth Sims
The “official” birthdate of 21 Feburary 1938 as given in the Texas Birth Index is actually incorrect; the actual date was 25 February 1938. The error seems to have been made due to a transcription in numbers; Mary Alabam Sims was 21 at the time Mabel Ruth was born.5
Clayton and Ruth met in 1957 while students at Abilene Christian College. Clayton was a junior and was teaching assistant in one of the beginning chemistry courses (qualitative analysis). Ruth was a freshman and worked in the chemistry storeroom. They began dating and were known to their friends by their nicknames, “Tex” and “Sam”. At the end of the spring term, Clayton went home to San Antonio and Ruth went to Houston, where she lived with her aunt, Leitha Banks. During the early part of the summer Clayton made several 200-mile drives from San Antonio to Houston for “dates”. Romance soon won and Clayton found a job in Pasadena doing shift work at Champion Paper and Fiber Company. He lived in a boarding house with about eight other men who had various day jobs. Clayton and Ruth continued to date, eventually fell in love and were married in Houston on September 6, 1957. Shortly thereafter they went back to Abilene, where they had a small studio apartment about two blocks from campus.
During the 1957-58 school year Clayton worked as a teaching assistant and Ruth worked as Secretary to Dr. Paul Witt, the Chemistry Department Chairman. For the rest of the story of their 15-year marriage, see the note under Clayton’s page.
After Clayton and Ruth divorced Ruth was married to Herman Vandestraat for 19 years (1974-1993). For a few years (2017-2021) she lived with daughter Cheryl Jackson in Eastsound, WA, and operated Mt. Baker Farm, a vacation destination, on Orcas Island. In July 2021 Clayton and Ruth reunited and will spend their remaining years together in Martinez CA.
Notes for Clayton Howell (Spouse 2)
Clayton Howell Heathcock ("little Tex") was born in San Antonio, Texas, on July 21, 1936. His parents were Clayton Heathcock, Sr. and Frances Lay Heathcock. Shortly after Clayton’s birth, the Heathcock family moved to Dallas, Texas, where Clayton, Sr. sold refrigerators on a commission basis. However, this venture was not successful, and they moved back to San Antonio in late 1937. The Heathcock’s residence during Clayton’s first few years was 613 Ripley Avenue. Clayton’s brother, James Franklin Heathcock, was born August 7, 1939, while the family still lived in the Ripley Avenue house. One of Clayton’s earliest memories is his new brother and mother being brought home from the hospital in a red and white ambulance.
Although the family moved around fairly often, Clayton was raised mostly on the Southeast side of San Antonio. Many of his childhood weekends were spent in Stockdale, Texas at the home of his grandparents, Will and Molly Heathcock. There he and his brother Jim spent many hours playing childhood games with their cousins, Molly, Randy, and Jack. These were the easy bygone days of childhood – mud puddles, selling watermelons from Will Heathcock’s field at a roadside stand, reading the Sears & Roebuck catalog while sitting in the outhouse behind Will and Molly’s house, drawing water from the well and drinking it from a porcelain cup. Another memory is of Will Heathcock killing a seven-foot-long rattlesnake by shooting it in the head with his ‘six-shooter’, which he kept hanging by his bed at night. The six-shooter was attached by a long string through a nail driven into the wooden wall and went to the light cord. Will could sit up at night and take the gun in his hand, turning on the room light at the same time. This arrangement terrified Frances Heathcock.
During this period, Clayton, Sr. worked at the Plaza Hotel Laundry. On weekends, he was permitted to use the laundry panel truck, which had only one seat. Clayton remembers many trips to Stockdale, Clayton, Sr. driving, Frances sitting on an orange crate, and Clayton, Jr. and Jim sitting in the floor in the back of the laundry truck, often with some yet-to-be-delivered clothes hanging on the bars overhead.
In 1944 Clayton, Sr. and Frances took their two sons to Georgetown, Texas, where Clayton, Sr. worked in a laundry that belonged to Frances’s uncle. While they lived in Georgetown, Peggy Frances Heathcock was born (September 24, 1945). In Georgetown, the Heathcock family lived in a rented house on a large fenced lot that was bisected by a three-foot wide stream. It was here that Clayton developed his early engineering skills, by building a mud-and-rock dam that converted the stream into a ten-foot wide pond. In this pond, Clayton and Jim kept two pet turtles, each about one foot in diameter. Each turtle had a hole drilled in the edge of its shell. A long piece of wire was looped through this hole and tied to a wooden stick. When the turtles buried themselves in the deep mud of the pond, as they were prone to do, it was possible to find and retrieve them.
The family returned to San Antonio in 1946. After completion of elementary school, Clayton attended Emerson Junior High School. While he was still in Junior High School, he had his first job, a paper route, delivering the San Antonio Express and Evening News twice a day and once on Sunday, from the age of 13 to 15. The Sunday deliveries totaled about 100 papers and usually required two trips. After expenses, the job netted about $60 per month, a princely sum in those days. The job was remarkably time-consuming by modern standards. Clayton was up at 4 am every day, seven days a week. He collected his newspapers, which were dropped off at an appointed street corner, and sat under a street lamp “blocking” the papers so that they could be sailed from his bicycle to the front porch (somewhat like throwing a Frisbee). If the paper had too many papers to be blocked, it was rolled and a rubber band was placed around it. He then loaded the newspapers (about 70 morning and evening and 100 on Sunday morning) in the cloth bags attached to the back of his bicycle and drove the blocks of the route. He would typically be done by 6 am and would then go home, take a bath, and dress for school. After school every day, and on Saturday afternoon, the process was repeated. At the end of the month, it was necessary to go to each house to collect for the month. Of course, many people were not home or were home and declined to pay because it wasn’t time (or simply because they were taking advantage of a 13-year old) so it took an average of about two visits to each of the 100 customers to fully collect.
After his father's death in 1950, Clayton, Jr. entered Brackenridge High School, continuing his paper route through his freshman year. During his sophomore year, he took an after-school and weekend job at the Shirt Shop, on Houston Street in downtown San Antonio. In this job he was first a stock boy and later a salesman. He held this part-time job through the summer after his graduation from Brackenridge in 1954.
While in high school, Clayton, Jr. was a member of the Student Council. He was a candidate for student body president during his junior year, but lost the election. During his senior year, he was Vice President of the Student Council. He was a member of several honor societies, including the National Honor Society.
One day in February 1953, while leaving Brackenridge High School at the end of the school day, Clayton was accosted by a group of Latino toughs and beaten soundly. His lower lip was severely cut and one tooth was broken at the root. The assault was front page news the next day in the San Antonio Light, which proclaimed in a headline that extended across the full width of the front page, “Gang Attacks Brackenridge Student”. It turned out that the 18-year old ring leader of the gang lived literally across the street from Clayton’s house and two days after the affair, he was brought to Clayton’s front door by his mother and forced to apologize.
Clayton, Jr. attended Abilene Christian College (ACC), in Abilene, Texas, from 1954-58. He majored in chemistry with an obligatory minor in bible. During his junior year, he worked in the chemistry stockroom. It was here, in the Spring of 1957, that he met Mabel Ruth "Sam" Sims, a freshman chemistry major. After a brief courtship, they announced their engagement during the early summer of 1957. They were married in Houston, Texas, on September 6, 1957, and returned to Abilene for Clayton’s last year of College.
Clayton, Jr. and Ruth ("Tex" and "Sam" to their friends) lived in a one-room apartment a few blocks from ACC during Clayton's senior year. Clayton served as a teaching assistant in the analytical chemistry course and Ruth was secretary for Dr. Witt, the Chairman of ACC's small chemistry department.
After graduation in 1958, Clayton and Ruth moved to Houston, Texas, where Clayton tried his hand at door-to-door sales, with the intention of entering graduate school in the fall semester of 1958. Like his father, however, Clayton was not much of a salesman. He earned exactly enough to pay for his sample kit of stainless steel cookware. Since Ruth was now pregnant with their first child, and since their 1949 Plymouth had just given up the ghost, Clayton took a permanent job with the Champion Paper and Fibre Company in Pasadena, Texas.
At Champion, Clayton was assigned to the central analytical laboratory and the management training program. After one year, he was promoted to Supervisor of the Chemical Tests Group in the central laboratory. He remained in this capacity at Champion until the fall of 1960, when he entered the doctoral program in chemistry at the University of Colorado. During the two years in Pasadena, two daughters, Cheryl Lynn Heathcock and Barbara Sue Heathcock, had been born (on October 28, 1958 and October 28, 1959, respectively).
The young family set up housekeeping in Boulder, Colorado in September, 1960. Their home was one-half of a furnished, surplus U.S. Army quonset hut, which they rented for $50 per month. It was fitted out with two bedrooms, plus a living room, a kitchen, and a bath (all diminutive). Since Ruth was fully occupied raising the two small children, the family had to live on the $180 per month that Clayton earned as the teaching assistant in the biochemistry laboratory. During the 1960-61 school year, Ruth became pregnant with their third child.
At the end of the spring semester of 1961, Clayton, Ruth, and the two girls moved to Baytown, Texas. The plan was for Clayton to work for three months at the Exxon Research Labs so that Ruth could have the third child in Houston, near her mother and father. Indeed, Steven Wayne Heathcock was born in Houston on June 16, 1961. Clayton's summer research was with the new analytical tool, nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry. His work at Baytown led to his first scientific article, which was published in the Canadian Journal of Chemistry.
The growing Heathcock family started Clayton's second year of graduate work in much improved fiscal shape. In the spring of 1961, Clayton was awarded a Graduate Fellowship by the National Science Foundation. The Fellowship relieved him of the need to work as a teaching assistant and paid the handsome sum of $330 per month, a healthy increase over the $180 per month that he had earned during his first year of graduate school. During this year, Clayton's research, under the direction of Colorado chemistry professor Alfred Hassner, began to blossom. By the end of 1962, Clayton was putting the finishing touches on the experimental work for his Ph.D. thesis and Ruth was pregnant with their fourth child. She gave birth to Rebecca Ann Heathcock in Boulder on February 6, 1963.
During the summer of 1962, Clayton had met Gilbert Stork, a noted synthetic organic chemist from Columbia University, when Stork gave a special course at Colorado. During the summer term, Stork approached Clayton and invited him to join his research group at Columbia for postdoctoral research. Clayton agreed and applied to the National Science Foundation for a postdoctoral fellowship. The fellowship was awarded and Clayton took his family to New York City after his graduation from Colorado in August, 1963.
The Heathcock family lived in Hackensack, New Jersey. Hackensack is in Bergen County, more-or-less west of the George Washington Bridge. Clayton commuted to Columbia by car, leaving before daylight so as arrive in the vicinity of Columbia University by 6:30 am. This schedule was necessary in order to find a parking space. To avoid the afternoon rush traffic, he normally remained at Columbia until after 7 pm, arriving home well after dark. One night a week there was a departmental colloquium, and Clayton stayed until its end, at about 10 pm. At Columbia, Clayton did research on the total synthesis of steroid hormones.
In January, 1964, Clayton flew to Berkeley for an interview at the University of California. Shortly after his return to New York, he received a telegram from Richard Powell, Chairman of the Berkeley Chemistry Department, offering him the position of Assistant Professor at a salary of $8,100 for nine months. He accepted the position and the family moved their belongings to Berkeley in August, 1964. Their first abode was a three bedroom townhouse in Richmond.
The next six years were busy ones. As is typical for junior faculty at major research institutions like Berkeley, Clayton worked 60-70 hour weeks. This left Ruth alone for long periods with four small children. In 1969, Clayton was told by Bruce Mahan, then Chairman of the Berkeley Chemistry Department, that he had been recommended for promotion to the tenured position of Associate Professor, effective July 1, 1970.
However, 1960-70 had been a decade of intense preoccupation with chemistry for Clayton--first as a student then as a young faculty member struggling to make a name for himself. The preoccupation had taken its toll on the relationship between Clayton and Ruth, and they had begun to drift in separate directions. During Clayton's sabbatical leave, January-July, 1971, the family lived together in Zurich, Switzerland. Shortly after their return, they sold their duplex in Berkeley and moved to San Rafael, in Marin County. After a somewhat trying period of personal readjustment, they separated in 1972. For the first half-year after the separation, Clayton lived in a bachelor apartment in Kensington, near the UC Berkeley campus. Ruth lived in San Rafael with the four children. In the fall of 1972, Clayton moved back to San Rafael and assumed the role of bachelor father and Ruth set up housekeeping with Herman Vandestraat, whom she met through her job in real estate.
For the four years from 1972 until 1976, Clayton raised his four children as the custodial parent. During this period he was also Vice Chairman of the Chemistry Department and wrote the first edition of "Introduction to Organic Chemistry" with his colleague Andrew Streitwieser. The book has subsequently appeared in second, third, and fourth editions and has been translated into German, French, Japanese, Italian, and Spanish. It has been used by an estimated 300,000 students worldwide during the 18 years since it first appeared in 1976. Clayton was promoted to Professor of Chemistry in 1976. In this capacity he teaches undergraduate and graduate chemistry courses and provides daily oversight of the Ph.D. research of 15-20 graduate students.
In 1976, Clayton met a young Berkeley chemistry graduate student named Cheri Rae Hadley. He was smitten with her and initiated a courtship. Partly as a result of this new romantic interest, Clayton worked out an agreement with Ruth (who had by this time married Herman Vandestraat) that she would assume the responsibility of custodial parent for the four children. Thus, in August, 1976, Clayton sold the San Rafael house and purchased a home in Kensington, three miles from the Berkeley campus. Cheri Hadley moved into the Kensington house with Clayton in 1977 and in then 1980 they were married on the day after Thanksgiving. Their small family wedding was held in the world-reknown Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse; the couple honeymooned at the Timber Cove Inn on the rugged North California coast in Mendocino county.
Clayton was Chairman of the Chemistry Department from 1986 through 1989. He also served as Editor-in-Chief of the periodical Organic Syntheses in 1988 and has been Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Organic Chemistry since 1989. He has been a member of the Scientific Advisory Council of Abbott Laboratories, in North Chicago, Illinois, since 1986. He is past Chairman of the American Chemical Society Division of Organic Chemistry and has been honored by the Society with the Ernest Guenther Award in 1986 and the Aldrich Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry in 1990. In 1991, Clayton and Cheri travelled to Zurich, Switzerland, where Clayton was awarded the Prelog Medal by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. In 1996 he was elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences. In August of 1999, Clayton became Dean of the College of Chemistry at UC Berkeley. He retired as Professor in June 2004. His former students held a day-long scientific symposium and retirement party at Berkeley in July 2004. For the following academic year, Clayton continued to work in a recall capacity as Dean of the College of Chemistry, and retired from that position in June 2005. At that point, he was recalled again as Chief Scientist of QB3 Berkeley, the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences. He continued in that capacity until January 2008, when he was again recalled as Dean of the College of Chemistry for a further six-month period. He is now fully retired but contiunes to work as a consultant for law firms in patent litigation cases.
For many years Cheri Hadley worked as a Staff Specialist in the UC Berkeley College of Chemistry. She served in hazardous materials management, including supervision of a Chemical Redistribution Facility with its necessary computerized tracking system. She was also involved in the educational mission of the Department of Chemistry, supervising the instructional support staff and being responsible for the instructional budget and resources. In 2007 Cheri took a position with the Material Sciences Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a Federally-funded energy research facility in Berkeley, adjacent to the University of California campus.
Cheri and Clayton agreed to an amicable divorce in late 2013 and the divorce became official in January 2015.
One of Clayton's hobbies is genealogy. The research upon which these essays are based was initiated in 1977, when Clayton and his sixteen-year-old son Steven went to Texas, Alabama, and Salt Lake City to poke around in courthouses and the LDS Genealogical Library. It is an interest that has continued sporadically ever since. Clayton has made two other trips to Salt Lake City and a number of visits to the DAR Library and the National Archives in Washington. On one occasion, he spent two days in Jackson, Mississippi, for genealogical research.
Clayton's other hobby is raising and showing Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs. He and Cheri bought their first Ridgeback in early 1988 as a family companion. Subsequently, they became interested in dog shows and entered their young dog, Morganna, in a few shows. When Morganna completed her American Kennel Club Conformation Championship in only six shows, Clayton was hooked. They bought another dog, and then decided to try their hand at breeding under the kennel name Camelot Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Their first litter produced a handsome male named Camelot’s Technical Knockout (call name ‘Bruiser’). Bruiser quickly achieved his Championship and developed a national reputation in Rhodesian Ridgeback circles, earning more than 100 Bests of Breed and ranking nationally among the top three Rhodesian Ridgebacks in 1992, 1993, and 1994. He lived in South Africa for 18 months in 1995-97 and achieved South African and Zimbabwean championships. There have now been over 60 Camelot Rhodesian Ridgeback Champions, including five who have won all-breed Bests in Show. One was winner of the 2005 Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States National Specialty show.
Clayton has been active in the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States, serving as a Director from 1996 through 1999 and President for 2000. He organized the 2004 Rhodesian Ridgeback Club World Congress in Fort Worth, Texas, and was Show Chair for the 2010 Rhodesian Ridgeaback Club of the United States National Specialty in Ventura, California, in September 2010. He is also an American Kennel Club approved judge for Rhodesian Ridgebacks and has judged specialty shows in Canada, Australia, Ireland and Sweden, as well as shows in the United States.
In 2019 the University of California announced plans for a new chemistry building on campus, to be named Heathcock Hall.
Notes for Clayton Howell (Spouse 2)
In about 1969, the Heathcock family lived at 801 Arlington in El Cerrito, CA, just on the Kensington border. The four children were: Cheryl, 11; Barbara, 10; Steven, 8; and Rebecca, 7. One evening Clayton and Ruth went to neighbors for a party and left the four kids home alone. When they returned home about 11 pm the kids were asleep in their beds. However, there were burn marks on the shag carpeting and note, written on both sides of a scrap of school notebook paper (http://heathcock.org/genealogy/kids_note.pdf).

Written on one side of the note was:

“Dear Mom & Dad

“We will all pay for the rug and we are very sorry. Please forgive us and don’t spank us! We are all sorry, very sorry. You may give us a good talking to but we will never forget this. (over)”

On the back side of the note was:

“We tried everything we could find but nothing happened. Me and Barbara worked the hardest of all. Please, please forgive us. You may wake us up and tell us, and we will tell you what happened.

“Love, Cheryl & Barbara”

Written in the margin on the front page of the scrap was:

“We are in trouble!!!”
Notes for Clayton Howell (Spouse 2)
1940 Census of San Antonio, Bexar Co TX; 613 Ripley St
Household Members Age Relationship
Clayton Heathcock 29 Head
Francis Heathcock 25 Wife
Clayton Heathcock Jr 3 Son
James Heathcock 8/12 Son
Mable Lay 48 Mother-in-law
Virginia Lay 19 Sister-in-law

1950 Census of San Antonio, Bexar Co TX
Household Members Age Relationship
Francis E Heathcock 34 Head
Clayton H Heathcock 13 Son
James F Heathcock 10 Son
Peggy F Heathcock 4 Daughter
Mabel C Lay 58 Mother
Notes for Herman (Spouse 3)
Herman Vandestraat, 79, of Rancho Bernardo, CA, passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by his loving family on June 15, 2011. Herman (Hank) was born June 23, 1931, in Brunsum, Holland, to Emma Strohm and Hermann Vandestraat. He was a child during WWII and spoke often of the joy of being liberated by the U.S. soldiers. He became a proud citizen of the United States years later. After the war he moved to Canada and then to California where he had a restaurant "The Flying Dutchman". He also found his talent and passion in real estate and had a successful real estate office in Berkley, CA, until his retirement. Retirement was busy with travel, golf, boats, and remodeling real estate properties. Herman's love for his family, along with his sharp wit, keen sense of humor, and zest for life, were endearing qualities admired by all. He will be greatly missed.

Herman is survived by his wife, Ellen Vandestraat; stepson, Enoch (Olga) Borozinski; stepdaughter, Sarah (Mason) Hess; and he was "Opa" to his four grandchildren, Ethan, Ava, Vance and Maxeem. He is also survived by his sister, EC (Ben) Buitenhek; niece, Karen (Everett) Glass and children, Kevin, Hunter and Ryan; and nephew, Peter (Kris) Buitenhek and children, Katie and David (Amy).

The family expresses sincere gratitude to his caregivers, Karen Miner, Alicia Yocupicio, and The Elizabeth Hospice for their kindness.
Last Modified 9 Apr 2022Created 3 Jul 2023 using Reunion for Macintosh
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