Vivian Heikens Herbster

Honored by:George A. Heikens, Jr., Barbara A. Heikens, and Kathy H. Christensen
Brick location:F:21  map

This contribution in the name of Vivian Heikens Herbster serves as a tribute to a loving wife, mother, and grandmother who over the years, through her dedication and devotion to improving the lives of others, has inspired each of us to be all that we can dream.

Vivian Gordon was born in Cherokee County and attended Meriden Consolidated School and Mount Saint Mary's Academy in Cherokee, graduating from Meriden in 1935. After National Business School in Sioux City, she worked as a secretary in county district and state offices of the state of Iowa. In April 1940, she married George A. Heikens, then State Director of FSA, and lived in Ames and Des Moines until the summer of 1943, when they returned to George's family farm near Spencer to raise their family and be near George's aging parents. George, Jr., Mary Kathleen, and Barbara grew up on this farm.

George and Vivian were both 4-H leaders and members of the Parker Historical Society, for which George served as President and later, Vivian served as a director. George was a member of the Executive Board of the Clay County Fair Association, and Vivian later became the first woman member of the Fair Board. George was a past chairman of the Clay County Democratic Party and Vivian worked for 20 years as a precinct committee woman. They were both actively involved in efforts that saved the Clay County Court House. Vivian is a past-president of the Clay County Garden Club, Summit Neighbors' Study Club, Spencer Federated Woman's Club, Clay County Democratic Women and Spencer's Grove Questers. She served as circle chairman of the altar society in her church and as District Federated Garden Club Director.

She has been a Nationally Accredited Flower Show Judge and Nationally Accredited Landscape Design Critic since the early 1960's and a regular exhibitor at the Clay County Fair Flower Show since 1947. She served on the Iowa Human Services Council, State Extension Advisory Committee, Governor Hughes' Iowa Tax Study Committee, and as an Iowa 4-H Foundation Trustee. She has laughingly said she was probably the "token woman" on several committees in those days. She was made an Iowa Master Farm Homemaker in 1969. From 1966 until 1973 after the children had all left for college she worked for the Iowa State University Statistical Laboratory as an interviewer and supervisor. She has become a member and director of the Lakes Art Council and is a member of Arts-On-Grand in Spencer. She also belongs to the Iowa Heritage Foundation Nature Conservancy and the Iowa Humanities Board. She has given countless talks and demonstrations on flower arranging rug hooking and braiding antiques and the lives of famous Iowans and she has shared slides and stories of her travels to countries around the world.

She and George enjoyed farm life and farm work and especially took pleasure watching the development and achievements of their children. After George's death from cancer in 1976, Vivian remained on the farm until her marriage to Ken E. Herbster in late 1978 after which she moved to a home on Lake Okoboji; however, she still keeps her home and gardens at the farm. She has delighted in sharing her family with Ken, who had no children. She has enjoyed new friends at the Lake especially the members of a Women's Bible Study Group and participating in the activities of the Environment and Flower committees at St. Joseph's in Milford, serving as Secretary of the West Okoboji Trees Forever and being a Meals-On-Wheels volunteer. She stills returns to Spencer to play bridge with her old bridge club and to attend organization and fair activities with her old friends.

Son, Dr. George A. Heikens is a psychologist at the Regional Treatment Center at St. Peter Minnesota. Daughter, Kathy after receiving a M.S. from Iowa State University and spending a brief stint teaching, is now an active farmer and pork producer. Her husband, Calvin Christensen, teaches at Iowa Lakes Commnity College. Daughter, Dr. Barbara Heikens is realizing her childhood ambition of becoming a veterinarian. Six grandchildren (all special) are Tom, Lori, and Philip Christensen, Julie Christensen Heiliger, and Molly and Aaron Holz.