On April 23, 2019, this world lost one of its shining lights. It lost William Gerald Heaton (AKA Big Bad Dad, AKA Big Papa, AKA Papa). Gerald was the husband of Lena Delores (Hunt) Heaton and the father of William Phillip and Lena Stacey and the grandfather of Jillene and Katelyn Gilreath. Before he and Delores began their family, Gerald joined the U.S. Army on the ‘Buddy Plan’ with his friend Bill Rogers. After boot camp, Bill went to Korea, and Gerald went to Hawaii. During his stay in Hawaii, Gerald was asked and was used in the film ‘Between Heaven and Hell’. He played a soldier. After his Army stint, Gerald returned to Morganton, Ga where the love of his life, Delores, was waiting for him. He took a job at the Tennessee Copper Company. Gerald spent twenty-six years there until he was laid off and then happened upon the best job he ever had in his life (his words). He took over the Mountain Area Transportation Services and that enabled him to care for the local community. Between all these things was Gerald’s other passion and that was bluegrass music. He was part of the local band ‘Johnny & Gerald and The Georgia Mountain Boys’. They had the privilege to play at the Grand Ole Opry, and also was chosen to work the Jerry Lewis Telethon, and they pretty much played all over the Southern United States. Once when Bill Monroe was traveling through North Georgia, Bill contacted the local station WKRK in need of musicians. WKRK pointed Bill to the Johnny & Gerald group and they were able to play backup for Bill while he traveled here. After Johnny & Gerald stopped playing music, Gerald mostly played at church until a few years ago when he joined up with more locals and formed the band Highway 76. Now even with all these fun accomplishments, if you ever engaged Gerald in conversation, before long it would end up being about his family. They were the apple of his eye. If there was one thing in this world our dad and granddad knew how to do, it was how to love. He’d stand right beside you in you greatest high and your most miserable low. We’re going to miss you. We’ll miss arguing over UGA football. We’ll miss you dragging us all to the steak house. We’ll miss you taking us up to mom’s grave and complaining about how you just can’t get the grass to grow. We’ll miss you making us listen to a new song you discovered on YouTube. We’ll miss your fantastic vegetables you grew every year. Our faith tells us we will see each other again. So until then, bye papa.