This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient — MaryAnne Heath — will be recognized with the honor at the upcoming annual awards dinner put on by the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce. The dinner will be Friday, Jan. 15 at the Gene Bianchi Community Center.
Heath has lived in Oakdale all of her life. Raised on a dairy/cattle ranch north of Oakdale on Gilbert Road she is the youngest of three children born to Larry and Alice Heath. The ranch was where she developed the work ethic that would carry her through life to become a very successful businesswoman and humanitarian. It was, at the tender age of five, those early morning hours gathering eggs, feeding the chickens, tending the livestock, helping with the milking, and even irrigating the pasture that molded her character.
Her education began in kindergarten at Cloverland School on Maag Avenue, then junior high at Magnolia and on to Oakdale High School. She was a terrific athlete, starring in all sports, to include softball, tennis, field hockey, and basketball. Continuing her education, she attended Modesto Junior College and Stanislaus State University where she graduated with two degrees, one in Liberal Arts and the other in Psychology.
She has always had a flair for the arts. In high school she was very active in the choir, and the drama department’s plays, musicals and other activities. Her wonderful voice is still a local treasure most often heard as a soloist at St. Mary’s Church on Sundays and special events.
Heath started work at the Moss Rose Bakery at the young age of 14. Then owner, Don Raduechel, took her under his wing and began her education in the bakery business. Ten years later, the Moss Rose Bakery had a new owner. The business has flourished, and is renowned throughout the valley, foothills, and the Bay Area as the best “pastry pantry” you will ever find. For more than 40 years this lady has been an integral part of Oakdale’s downtown businesses.
Animals have always been a big part of her life. Her best friend while growing up was her horse Princess. As far as we know she has always had one or more dogs under her care. It was her dog “Nickey” that became famous around Oakdale for the time it spent at the Oakdale Care Center visiting and raising the spirits of those senior citizens living there. This was a first for the Care Center and went on to become a project followed by many other caring people and animals … all thanks to this years’ Life Time Achievement Award recipient.
When asked about her hobbies she replied, “wine tasting, food, traveling, and being adventurous.”
It isn’t surprising that she left out the one hobby that she spends the most time doing, and that is helping other people. It is difficult to quantify the numerous people she has provided help and comfort to — primarily, because of her modesty and just “getting it done” attitude when there is a need.
Whether it is helping confined seniors, providing food, and or money to the less fortunate, or just a warm hug, she is always there when the need arises.
When asked for a comment she summed it up as one might have expected.
“Well let me tell you, Oakdale has given me more than I could ever give in return,” she said, adding, “What’s important is just being there when someone needs you, sick people, down on their luck people, any of those that need a helping hand.”