Susan Heeman, of Heeman's Garden Centre and Strawberry Farm, dies

Susan Heeman, who helped start the family’s popular garden centre and strawberry farm in Thorndale, died peacefully on Feb. 13 at her home. She was 82.

Heeman's will be closed on Monday to commemorate Susan

Susam Heeman died on Feb. 13 at her home. She was 82. (Heeman's Garden Centre and Strawberry Farm)

The "strong and guiding matriarch" for the Heeman family has died and joined her late husband just in time for what her family calls "a special date with her Valentine."

Susan Heeman, who helped start the family's popular Heeman's Garden Centre and Strawberry Farm in Thorndale, died peacefully on Feb. 13 at her home. She was 82.

She and her late husband Bill came to Canada from the Netherlands in 1958 and a created an empire out of the Nissouri Road farm, just outside of London. Bill died last June.

Susan grew up in Holland, where she learned about flowers and developed a passion for plants at a young age.

So, it was her idea to add greenhouses and run a flower business out of farm, "that many people know and appreciate today," read an online statement about her passing.

'A strong and determined woman'

Those who knew Susan described her as a strong and determined woman, the statement said. She took care of the house, her children and "somehow always [found] the energy to take in foster children while never missing a meal or coffee time."

The statement described her as a "deeply caring and proud mother, grandmother, great grandmother and foster mother."

Her grandkids say they remember having sleepovers at grandma's, receiving a chocolate letter at Christmas and eating her strawberry and custard desserts.

Community connections

Susan and Bill were "famous" at the London Dutch Club for dancing the night away, read the statement.

The pair formed "close bonds" with many in the community through their business.

The statement said Susan was a regular at the Berry Beanery and enjoyed socializing.

In fact, next month, Susan and Bill will be inducted in the Middlesex County Agriculture Hall of Fame for their work.

Heeman's will be closed on Monday to commemorate Susan. A celebration of life will be held after 11 a.m. on Monday at St. Patrick's Catholic Church.