Erma Mae (Beatty) Hegarty went to be with the Lord on Saturday, July 18, 2020, at Simpson Meadows, Downingtown, PA, at the age of 93.
Erma was the eldest daughter of the late Ralph Henry and Catherine (Bracco) Beatty. She was the beloved wife of the late Rev. Dean Calvin Hegarty with whom she shared nearly 60 years of marriage.
Erma was born outside of Pittsburgh in Unity, PA, on February 17, 1927. A graduate of Penn Hills High School in 1945, Erma pursued her education at Nyack Bible College in New York, graduating in 1950. When her father was dying of cancer, she returned home to work and be a help to her mother and her three youngest siblings. Later she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in English at Houghton College in 1955. She married Dean on November 26, 1955.
After her children were born, Erma was a full-time homemaker while serving as an active volunteer at the churches where her husband pastored. They were very much a team. (Her family remembers how she typed all his sermons on a small portable typewriter before computers. She also taught the children how to write and proofread by practicing on the church newsletter.) Erma was a member of Hydetown Baptist Church, near Titusville, PA; Windsor Baptist Church (her husband Dean was the pastor there from 1964-1985), Eagle, PA; and most recently Exton Community Baptist Church, Exton, PA.
After Dean’s retirement in 1985, Erma and he built their own home and enjoyed traveling in their camper-van. Throughout the years, she made five trips to Cambodia and Thailand, four to Cuba, two to Nicaragua as well as travel to the Holy Land, and every state in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. Her last trip was to Costa Rica in January 2020.
Erma’s faith was extremely important to her and she had a great love of missions. She also enjoyed gardening, woodworking, watching birds at the birdfeeder and completing crossword puzzles. In her later years, she pursued her interest in natural health treatments, affectionately being called Dr. Mom, in addition to taking daily walks.
Erma is survived by three children and three grandchildren: Susan B. Hegarty and daughter Kathryn, missionary to Costa Rica (and previously to Nicaragua and Cuba); Debra K. Coats and her husband John and two sons Micah and Jesse, missionaries to Cambodia: and son Robert Hegarty, a nurse practitioner with the Veteran’s Administration in Baltimore, and wife, Jill, of Darlington, MD. She is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents and seven siblings as well as her husband.
A private graveside service will be held at Windsor Baptist Church and a recording of the service will be posted on-line later. There will be a memorial service hosted by Windsor Baptist Church at a later date with on-line interactive so that participation will be possible both on-site or from home.
Memorial contributions in Erma’s name may be made to Erma’s first love, missions, through Windsor Baptist Church or Exton Community Baptist Church. Gifts earmarked (on the memo line) for the Hegarty Memorial Fund will be distributed among the missionaries of American Baptist International Ministries and Eastern Mennonite Missions supported by those churches.