Leslie Heitmann

Leslie Gail Heitmann (Ryder)

Monday, September 21st, 2020
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Leslie Gail Heitmann of Big Flats, NY, known to everyone simply as Gail, passed into our Lord's hands on Monday, Sept 21, 2020 at Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester, NY after a long courageous battle with cancer. She was 73. She is survived by her loving husband of 53 years John Heitmann, her daughter, Lacy, son-in-law Aaron, and grandson Dustin of New Jersey, also brother-in-law Ken, his wife Diana and nephew Bryan, and her best friend since childhood, Peggy Lutz of Rhode Island. She was predeceased by her parents, Edna and John Ryder of Livingston, NJ as well as numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.

Gail loved to travel, and with John traveled to most of the 50 states and a number of foreign countries including Japan (where she had several former students), the South Pacific, Europe and Iceland. She loved Ballroom Dancing and belonged to three dance clubs in the Southern Tier, and for many years was co-president with John of the Argon Dance Club. She was a long time Literacy Volunteer, and in addition to having a number of foreign students she volunteered to hear children read at the Ridge Road Elementary School. She loved wildlife and especially birds. She and John traveled to places like Montezuma National Wildlife Preserve and Algonquin Provisional Park in Canada to observe and photograph them.

But most of all she loved her family and close friends, and her quick smile and genuine warmth charmed many, including doctors and nurses during her extended hospital stays.

In lieu of flowers, donations in her name may be made to Tanglewood Nature Center, 443 Coleman Ave., Elmira, NY 14903.

Everyone is invited to join in a Virtual Memorial Service at 4:00 PM, Monday, September 28th, which will be conducted via ZOOM and hosted by Phillips Funeral Home & Cremation Service, 17 W. Pulteney St., Corning. Participation instructions can be found by visiting, please click on Gail's obituary and scroll to the bottom. Pre-registration is required and can be completed by copying and pasting the link provided on the website, or by using the following link:
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Service Details

  • Virtual Memorial Service

    Monday, September 28th, 2020 | 4:00pm
    Monday, September 28th, 2020 4:00pm
    Online - See Link Below
    For live streaming and pre-registration, please copy and paste the following link in your web browser:


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Sally Brown

Posted at 10:49am
Terry and I really enjoyed spending time at our dance classes and the dine and dance club dances. We shared many laughs and stories about our grandchildren. We also loved to share pictures of wildlife and nature. You would really love the beautiful colors this fall. We loved your jokes that you sent, which made us laugh everyday. We will miss your beautiful smile and all the lunches that we shared.
Sally and Terry

Debbie Morris

Posted at 09:15am
Gail was a very kind, sweet, and thoughtful person. She noticed details and was very appreciative. Annually, the train club would come to our house for dinner during Dickens of a Christmas. She was a delight to spend time with, so cheerful and engaging. She always enjoyed the food and was very complimentary. One year, as we walked the streets together to look at all the booths, I must have mentioned that my ears were cold. The next time she came, she brought me a headband she had purchased to keep my ears warm. I have rarely met someone who was so observant and yet caring enough to buy a gift to solve my dilemma. Gail was quiet but very considerate and loving.

Heartfelt Sympathies Store

Posted at 03:38pm
With love and hugs,
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