Thursday, January 8, 2009

"A Champion Forever"

What else can I add to such a great man that has not already been said. Not enough words of praise can describe this wonderful man and what he meant to all the lives of all those he touched. He will be missed by all that were fortunate to know him as a student, athlete, friend and family. My prayers are with the Heap family as they travel down this difficult time that they may be comforted in their sorrow. "Coach Heap", my pleasure and honor to know him and play for him, "A Champion Forever"!

Longie Pat Ballejos, Orem, Utah

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Dear Dawn and family,
My heart is with you today.  I have so many fond memories of all of you.  Coach Heap was truly a wonderful man and he influenced so many lives. I know the memories you have will serve as a comfort to you. 
-Marsha (Naegle) Sowder

Verl taught me in HS and in life through his hard work.  I remember fondly him showing up at my house at 4am to get me so I could buck hay for him.  I thought I was going to die that day as he never slowed down. Of all of his accomplishments two stand out to me.  His faith in God and his service.  And his service he gave to our country in the war. On behalf of my family and myself Thank you for being such a wonderful example.  And to his family may God bless you in this difficult time,  St. Johns and Arizona's loss is Heavens gain. Until we meet again. 
-Jim Hargrave

Few teachers have had such a great impact on me as Mr.Heap.  As much as anything he thaught boys how to develop character to become good men. From him I learned persistence, practice, study and teamwork and a great love of basketball. For his family, I express my love and respect and faith that family realtionships are not terminated, only interrupted for a season.
-Robert Greer

Coach Heap was a legendary figure, so much that I knew all about him after a short stay in St. Johns.  His influence and love for all he did will clearly be missed.
-Craig J. Layton

He was my teacher, my neighbor, my friend and my hero and I loved him.  I was 17 when my mother passed away and he was in the bishopric.  His love and concer and words of comfort helped me more than anything I can remember.  May the Lord comfort all of you until you meet him again. 
-Zilpha Nielson Gardner

My prayers and thoughts go to Coach Heap's family.  I was a student of his in the late 70's and spent a lot of time with him outside of school, running cattle and at rodeos.  He was a kind and gentle mand and a great coach and teacher; a true example of a great man.
-Dawn Whaley (Lundy)

Dear Sister Heap and Family.  I am so sorry for your loss.  Coach Heap made a real difference in my life, both physically and spiritually.  He was my high school coach and teacher, and he served in our bishopric and in the Young Men's Presidency in St. Johns.  Coach Heap taught me many lessons in addition to basketball. I was always impressed that he treated those of us who were mediocre ball players the same as he treated those who were All Stars.  He was truly one of my heroes and I tried to pattern my life after his.  I am sorry I am ill and I can't attend the funeral, but please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time.
-Phillip Ray Brown, St. Johns High School Class of 1954

Our condolences go out to the family of Mr.Verl Heap.  We were privileged to know him and his wife many years ago as we started our family in St. Johns.  He was a master teacher and coach.  OUr best wishes and love in this difficult time goes out to all of the family. 
-Kenny & Anneta Smith   Thatcher, AZ
To Aunt Dawn, her kids (my cousins) and all of your family,

I'm so sad that I wasn't able to be there for Uncle Verls funeral.

My son is leaving on his mission in a few days and we had so much to do to get him ready to leave, so I wasn't able to travel to St. Johns at this time. I found this website from April's blog and sat and cried as I read all the great tributes to Uncle Verl and recalled many wonderful ways he influenced my life. I have always been proud to say that I know "Coach Heap" and that he is my Uncle! I remember all of the trips the cheerleaders got to take with the teams and how

Uncle Verl always treated me so special. I know he tried not to show any favorites, but hey, I'm his niece!! Aunt Dawn and Uncle Verl have always been such a great example to me. I think of Aunt Dawn and what a dedicated and loving wife and mother she is! She taught me that THAT is the kind of mother I wanted to be and she was always there supporting her husband though everything! I have so much more I could write, and I will in a letter soon, but just wanted you to know I found this wonderful blog site and couldn't read it without leaving my love and to say how much I love Uncle Verl.

Love to all of the HEAPS,

Kathy (Grant) Peterson
January 6, 2009

Dear Mr. Heap:

You probably wouldn't remember me. I was the shy Mexican kid in your Sociology class. You inspired me to become an educator and I too, after graduating from ASU, served as a teacher, assistant principal and principal. Thanks for your positive influence in my life. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Agustin Jaramillo (Cypress, CA)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

USA Today & AZ Republic

ASU hoops great, St. Johns coach Verl Heap dies
by Doug Haller - Jan. 2, 2009 04:17 PMThe Arizona Republic

ASU Hall of Famer Verl Heap, a basketball star and successful high school coach, died on Christmas Eve.
He was 84.
Heap played basketball for the Sun Devils during the 1942-43 season, but World War II interrupted his career. Heap enlisted in the Air Force, serving as a B-17 pilot. Two years later, he returned to Tempe and played for the Sun Devils from 1945-48.

He was named outstanding player of the 1948 National Basketball Tournament, and went on to coach high school basketball for 30 years at St. Johns, collecting 560 wins.
Heap was inducted into the ASU Hall of Fame in 1998, along with golfer Billy Mayfair and quarterback Jeff Van Raaphorst, among others.
Services will be held at 11 .m. Saturday with a viewing an hour before at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Downtown Chapel, in St. Johns. There is also a viewing from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Burnham Mortuary in St. Johns.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Johns High School basketball.

The Independent

Basketball great Verl Heap dies at 84

By: Andy Staten, The Independent


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Verl Heap addresses high school senior athletes and their parents and coaches after receiving the Paving the Way Award at the All American Banquet in Mesa in 2002.

ST. JOHNS - The state of Arizona lost one of its all-time greatest sports figures last week.

Parley Verl Heap, 84, died peacefully at his St. Johns home Christmas Eve.

Heap was a standout basketball player at St. Johns High School, at Arizona State University (1942 and 1945-48 - punctuated by a stint in the Air Force during World War II), in the Basketball Association of America (now the NBA) and American Basketball League. After his pro career he returned to ASU as a basketball assistant. Then after two years at Duncan High School, he returned to St. Johns where he became one of the state's winningest high school basketball coaches.

He was born Sept. 6, 1924, in St. Johns, to Parley and Leona Heap. At a young age he learned to garden, irrigate and work on the family's farm. At age 10 he began working for his uncles on their farms and ranches and quickly learned how to do most anything there was to do. He became a good hand at both farming and ranching but ranch work was his favorite. He soon became a good horseman and loved working with cattle. Later on he learned to rope and enjoyed team roping with his friends and sons until just a few years before his death.

In school, Verl enjoyed many things including basketball and music. He sang in the choir and played a trumpet in the band. And through many hours of practice, he became a real standout at basketball where he made his high school varsity team as a sophomore.

During the Great Depression years of the 1930s and '40s, St. Johns, like many schools from northern Arizona, did not make the long trip to Tucson for the state tournament, so many outstanding players, including Heap, were not selected for post-season honors.

But his hard work in basketball soon paid off as he received a full-ride scholarship to play basketball at Arizona State. While at ASU he quickly became an important part of the basketball program, leading his team in scoring the first three games of his collegiate career. At the end of his freshman year in college he enlisted in the Air Force and served his country during World War II as a B17 pilot. While in the service, he married his sweetheart, Dawn Sherwood, also from St. Johns. After the war, they returned to ASU where he resumed his education and his basketball career. Upon his return to ASU basketball, he started every game and finished with a 15-points-per-game scoring average. Heap led the Sun Devils in rebounds his final two years at ASU. He was a All-Border Conference First Team pick, averaging 23 points per game, during the 1946-47 season. He led the Sun Devils to the National Basketball Tournament during the 1947-48 season and was named the tournament's Outstanding Player. He was also a member of the National Honor Society while at ASU. After his college days, Verl signed a contract to play professional basketball, becoming one of the first two players from the state to play pro basketball. He signed and played in what was then the Basketball Association of America. He first played for the Providence, Rhode Island Steamrollers and later with the American Basketball League's Wilkes-Barre Barons of Pennsylvania. He quickly became a starter and a standout with both teams.

While playing for the Steamrollers, Heap played against teams which still exist today, such as the New York Knicks and Minneapolis Lakers.

"I was a post player in college, but was a wing forward in the pro league," Heap said in a 1999 interview with The Independent. "There weren't a lot of great midmen in the game then. George Mikan (of the Lakers) was the best big man in the game. He was like a Kareem Abdul Jabbar of his time."

After a short career as a professional basketball player, he returned to Arizona where he could raise a family and pursue the other things he loved. He first went back to ASU where he worked as an assistant basketball coach. Then, in 1951, he went to Duncan High School for two years and following that he returned to his hometown of St. Johns where he took up farming and ranching again and coached and taught school for more than 30 years.

While coaching at Duncan and St. Johns, he compiled an amazing record of 592 wins and 168 losses. His 592 wins was the state's second most for any coach when he retired in 1984 (and his 536 at St. Johns was the most for any coach at one school). His teams were region or conference champions more than 20 times, state runners-up six times and state champions eight times. His Redskins also won 20 or more games during 13 seasons, won 44 straight games in 1976-77 and made three consecutive state title game appearances from 1972-74.

He is also a long time member of the Arizona Coaches Association Hall of Fame. In 1998, he was inducted into the ASU Athletics Hall of Fame.

In 2002, Heap and longtime coaching friend and rival Marlin LeSueur of Round Valley were honored with the Paving the Way Award at the All American Banquet in Mesa. The Paving the Way award is awarded to high school coaches and educators who have "paved the way" for countless others.

Heap said in the 1999 interview that coaching and working with the boys on the high school basketball teams has been the most satisfying thing he has gotten out of the sport. He also commented on the many changes he has seen in the sport over the previous six decades.

"The three-point shot has changed the game," Heap said. "Now everything's geared to shoot threes instead of trying to get the best shot close to the basket. The emphasis is on offense. When you get to the state playoffs, teams will play defense. The fans want more offense.

"You have a different kind of player now. They considered it more of a privilege to play then. Now if a coach disciplines pretty hard, he loses players. Now they say 'big deal, I'll go do something else.

"Also, there were no girls in sports - all the emphasis was on the boys' play. Now in high schools there is a girls team in each sport. It was inevitable it would happen. They do and should have equal opportunity."

Later in his retirement years, Heap enjoyed watching his grandchildren and their teammates play basketball. Although he would occasionally make it to a Suns game, he always loved the high school game the most.

"I'd rather watch high school games. The pros have their own set of rules. It is such a money thing. Did you ever see Michael Jordan foul out of a game? The fans want to see him.

"And on the inside big men can kill each other. I think that takes away from the game - to be skillful to play the game - to have all that body contact."

Verl was an active and devoted member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints where he served in many capacities throughout his life. He was a farmer and rancher and devoted husband and father, friend and neighbor. He loved and supported his family with all his heart and they all love him very much.

He was preceded in death by his parents Parley and Leona Heap, a sister Peggy (Larry) Stradling and his oldest son Gary (Lila) Heap.

Survivors include: His wife of 64 years, Dawn Sherwood Heap; daughter, LeAnn (George) Proctor; son, Jimmy (Jenny) Heap; son, Roger (Terri) Heap, daughter, Eileen (Darrell) Lindsey; brothers, Theo (Gloria) Heap and Ronald (Bobbie) Heap; and sisters, Mary Ellen (Barry) Webb and Lakay (Joey) Grant; 18 grandchildren, and 17 great grandchildren. Funeral services will be held Jan. 3 at 11 a.m. with a viewing one hour before at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Down Town Chapel, in St. Johns. There will also be a viewing at Burnham Mortuary in St. Johns on Friday, January 2, from 6 to 8 p.m. Information can be found at

EDITOR'S NOTE - Verl's son Roger Heap contributed to this article.

ASU Website

ASU Hall of Famer Verl Heap Passes Away At 84

Heap played basketball for Arizona State in 1943 and 1946-48

Jan. 2, 2009

Parley Verl Heap , 84, of St. Johns, Ariz, died peacefully at his home on December 24, 2008.

He was born September 6, 1924, in St. Johns, to Parley and Leona Heap. Verl loved outdoor activities and was a life-long farmer and rancher. After high school he went to ASU on a basketball scholarship. After one year he enlisted in the Air Force and served his country as a B17 pilot. While in the service, he married Dawn Sherwood, also from St. Johns. After the war, they returned to ASU, where he resumed his education and basketball career.

After a short career as a professional basketball player, he decided to return to Arizona to raise a family. He spent a short time back at ASU as an assistant coach and then two years at Duncan High School. He then returned to St. Johns where he again took up farming/ranching and coached and taught school for 35 years. He was an active and devoted member of The LDS church, a devoted husband and father, friend and neighbor and he loved and supported his family with all his heart.

He was preceded in death by his parents Parley and Leona Heap, a sister Peggy and his oldest son Gary. Survivors include: His wife of 63 years, Dawn Sherwood Heap; daughters, LeAnn Proctor and Eileen Lindsey; sons, Jimmy and Roger Heap; brothers, Theo and Ronald Heap; sisters, Mary Ellen Webb and Lakay Grant; 18 grand children, and 17 great grand children.

Funeral services will be held on January 3, at 11 a.m. with a viewing one hour before at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Down Town Chapel, in St. Johns. There is also a viewing at Burnham Mortuary in St. Johns on Friday, January 2, from 6 to 8 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Johns High School Basketball.

East Valley Tribune

’40s ASU basketball star Parley Heap dies

Former Arizona State basketball standout Parley Verl Heap died of natural causes Dec. 24.

He played for ASU in 1942-43, 1945-46, 1946-47 and 1947-48, with a year in the U.S. Army Air Force in between. He was an ASU assistant and then spent 35 years coaching and teaching in his native St. Johns. He was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2008.
Thank You

Thank you, Mr. Staten and the Independent for writing and printing this article. I appreciated being able to read about this great man. To think of the number of lives Mr. Heap touched in a positive light is awesome.

Moose Baker, St. Johns, AZ

Monday, January 5, 2009

January 5, 2009
When I moved to Arizona and began coaching basketball in 1969 one of the names that I heard was the best in the state was Verl Heap. I took the time to seek out this coach and pick his brain about basketball-this was a good choice and am thanful that he took the time to sspend with me. My prayers to the family and God speed.

Stephen Hudgens (Williams, AZ)

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January 4, 2009
Thanks Coach Heap for being my first coach (1952) and for being such an inspiration to all the students lives you touched over your many years of dedicated service to the education community. You always exhibited great loyalty to your former students and community by your examples set. My families prayers go out to your wonderful family and may God be with you always. Rest in peace.

Erwin and Peggy Crotts (Duncan, AZ)


January 3, 2009
Rest Verl, until you hear at dawn,the low, clear reveille of God.Thank you for your service to this nation.

Harry Simpson (Wichita, KS)


January 3, 2009
Our best to the family and a big thanks for all the influence and leadership that Verl exhibited to his students and public during his many years as coach. ASU and we the community honor such good men as Verl!! John & Theresa Brooking

John Brooking (Tempe, AZ)


January 2, 2009
You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Linn Tyler and Lynette Heap (Gilbert, AZ)
A True American Hero

I attended SJHS from '76-'79 and was fortunate to know Coach Heap. He was a true American hero, humble about all his accomplishments, his WWII service, but proud of his family and of his teams. They don't make them any better than him.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Eoff, Forward Deployed to Israel
“My name is Ina Overson. I did not know Mr. Heap personally, but I feel that my life has been significantly influenced by his. For the past 3+ years, I have worked with the two incredible daughters that he and his wife raised. Eileen is my boss and LeAnn and I share a classroom as Special Ed teachers. Knowing these two choice women has taught me so much. I admire their strength, intelligence and strong work ethic. I have watched them each go through personal trials with courage and grace. They stand up for their beliefs and in defense of others. They are the kind of women I look to as examples and I am blessed to know them. The Bible says, “by their fruits ye shall know them”. In that case, by his daughters, I know that Mr. Heap is a great man.”

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Thanks for the Memories

Hello to everyone that visits this site.    We all have so many wonderful memories of him and know that so many others have great memories too.  Please feel free to leave a comment and share your memories with us.   Thanks so much.  ~The Verl Heap Family