Susan Cassell Heavens of West Chester

Susan Cassell Heavens, 65, of West Chester, died Tuesday, Nov. 9, at Rosemont Center in Bryn Mawr. 

Above all else, Susan was two things: a mother and a teacher. Her deep love and devotion for both were rooted in her soul and life’s mission.

Susan Cassell Heavens

Susan was born and raised in Aston, to parents Frank and Betty Cassell, who were forever the guiding forces in her life, well beyond their days on this earth. She shared this blessing with her sister Jackie Battinieri and brother James Cassell, all three siblings united in the closeness and family bond that Frank and Betty built.

Susan would grow up to be feisty and independent — and she definitely knew how to have fun. Her childhood and teen years in Delco would lead to lifelong friendships she’d carry through to the rest of her life. A 1974 graduate of Notre Dame High School in Moylan, she’d take her best Irish girlfriends well into adulthood — always together, dancing their way through all of life’s chapters by each other’s sides.

Graduating from Penn State University in 1978, Susan went on to build a beautiful career in education. She held a number of positions over the years, teaching children of all ages, and impacting the lives and educational journeys of countless students along the way. 

A particular career highlight includes her time as preschool director at the Southern Chester County YMCA, where she fully developed the program’s early childhood curriculum from the ground up, and vastly expanded the preschool program in both size and breadth. Her final professional role was as a teacher at St. Joseph’s School in Downingtown, where she brought the joy of writing and reading to her 7th and 8th-grade students who adored her.

Susan instilled that same love of learning in her own children, Patrick Heavens and Colleen Heavens, who were her absolute pride and joy. Capturing the depth of love she had for her two children on the page would be impossible. But it was boundless and enduring ­– a love so deep that it truly shaped them into the strong, compassionate individuals they’ve become. 

Susan and Matt Heavens raised them in West Grove, where they shared so many happy memories as a family. Christmas mornings, Susan’s delicious cooking and baking, Kisses the dog, the piano being played and music always on. Their home was filled with a profound love that Susan fostered and treasured. 

In addition to her children, Susan was passionate about many of the things she held dear. She was a fiercely loyal friend and an unabashed, untamed Irish woman. The beach was her favorite place in the world, and the sound of the ocean brought her peace and clarity. Her sense of humor was off the charts, and perhaps the only thing she loved more than laughing was dancing — or better yet, doing both at the same time.

From Joni to Bruce, music was a part of Susan’s soul. She loved live music and grew up playing the piano. Her other favorite place to dance was at the annual Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and she also brought all of that spunk and creativity into her classroom.

Susan was a deep thinker. She loved reading and philosophy and had a great gift for writing. This was matched with her emotional intelligence – always feeling deeply, and like her own mom, standing solid in her identity as someone who wore their heart on their sleeve. 

She looked at the world with curiosity and wonder. She loved traveling and seeing new places with fresh eyes, with an openness and beautiful mind for understanding that we’re part of something bigger. And she wove this into how she educated and how she raised her children. 

Her life was beautiful and joy filled. But Susan would never shy away from the honesty of where we gain our strength — in life’s hardest moments. When it came to strength, she had no shortage of it. Susan was a fighter. Even after a diagnosis of dementia that would eventually take her from us, Susan’s love for her children, music, and her smile never waned. But now, in her passing, it’s finally time for her to receive the peace she has long deserved. 

You are invited to visit with Susan’s family and friends from 9:45 to 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16, at Assumption BVM Church, 300 State Road, West Grove, PA 19390. Her Mass will follow at 11. Burial will be in St. Patrick's Cemetery in Kennett Square, PA.  Arrangements by the Kuzo Funeral Home, Kennett Square.

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