Heberling remembers her husband with donation
As retirement beckoned, the Heberlings moved to Park City to enjoy the twilight of their lives together.
Dr. Richard L. and Pat Heberling wanted to be immersed in the outdoors and to spend time sharing their mutual passion for art and photography.
Richard was a non-human virologist and had delighted in observing microscopic organisms while capturing their behavior on film. High-elevation ponds and the Great Salt Lake fascinated him.
"It was a dream he always had. That was his hobby," Pat said. "He loved science so much, he didn’t retire until he was a young 78. He loved his lab and doing good work. It was difficult for him to say finally, ‘I’m going to take my wife and go to the mountains. We’ve finally made the complete move in April 2005.’"
Richard saw "thousands and thousands of astounding samples of microbiological specimens through the microscope," Pat said. He had a large Nikon microscope with photography attachments for taking photos of the slides. His plan was to visit the numerous ponds in the area, the Great Salt Lake, and tidal pools on the West Coast, collect his specimens and bring them back to the photography lab at the Kimball Art Center to be developed and enlarged into "beautiful art prints."
The dream ended short. In November of 2005, seven months after moving to Park City, 79-year-old Richard died from cancer.
"His dreams of golfing in the warm weather and making art prints from slides in the Kimball Art Center darkroom would go unrealized," Pat said.
Heberling, however, would do her best to make sure other dreams wouldn’t suffer the same fate. In memory of her husband, she donated $5,000 and Richard’s microscope to the Kimball Art Center specifically for its photography lab. A plaque will commemorate this donation and will be hung by the lab. This week, the Kimball reported that an order for the plaque has been made.
"My husband was a very generous person with his time and his knowledge," Heberling said. "I knew that he would want me to donate something that was meaningful to both of us and the community we have adopted. The memorial gift, I feel, is a gift to the Kimball that can keep on growing."
Before they moved to Park City in April of 2005, they lived here part-time. During their short residence, the Kimball Art Center became part of their lives.
"Every visit that we made, we always visited the Kimball to see what was on display," Heberling said. "We felt like, even though we were part-time residents, the Kimball was going to become part of our lives."
Coming from larger cities in the East, they appreciated the personal treatment they received from the Kimball.
"It was going to be a personal art center that we could both benefit and take advantage of the classes that they offered," Heberling said.
So, this donation, Heberling said, fits what Richard wanted.
"This would be just the perfect thing," Heberling said. "He died of cancer and I hesitated donating a large sum to medical fields. I just waited for something that he would smile down upon.
"I can see him and he says ‘This is it, you did it girl.’ It’s something that would just touch him deeply. It’s super. I’m just so happy with myself that it came to me."
The Kimball also became a source of support after Richard died.
"I am an artist and the dark winter after his passing, the Kimball Art Center and a very talented staff became a touchstone for me," Heberling said.
She took classes and volunteered for the Park City Arts Festival. The activities, she said, "helped me personally during a tough time."
In associating with the Kimball, she observed the needs it had to accomplish its goals.
"So, I decided that a special memorial bequest for the Photography Lab along with my husband’s equipment would be just the kind of donation he would want me to make. My family and I hope it will provide a legacy for Dr. Richard Heberling and help teach the students who participate in an exciting field of discovery at the Kimball."
She didn’t decide to donate to the Kimball overnight, however, and when she did, she wasn’t sure of how to donate.
"It had been germinating in my mind for months and months," Heberling said. "I wasn’t quite sure what (the donation) should be. I just knew that I should give something at the Kimball all year, I wanted to help."
One day while cleaning her house, the bulb lit up.
"When I was cleaning out the area where the microscope was, I thought, ‘Of course, that would be a perfect memorial so they could buy equipment and supplies that might be needed and keep it going for students," Heberling said. "When I saw the microscope and camera and equipment, I thought, ‘That’s what he wanted to do,’"
Heberling has no regrets from giving Richard’s equipment away.
"I know that it was going to go someplace that will appreciate it and use it, where I can know where it is and I might go use it myself in a class," she said.
Heberling is as generous with Richard’s equipment as Richard, himself, was.
"He was generous with himself in the laboratory. He would teach the lab staff. He would take the time to help everybody and help solve problems. He was always late coming home because he would help other people solve problems, he was totally unselfish," Heberling said.
"I thought that it would be a fitting to donate his microscope and camera so others might enjoy the Kimball," Heberling added.
While at times, it is rough without Richard, Heberling is still continuing their dream by staying in Park City.
"Everything we came to Park City for is still here," she said.
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