Heidi Saffel

Heidi Ann Saffel

1932 - 2018

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Obituary of Heidi Ann Saffel

Heidi Ann Denis Borges Saffel of Morgantown passed away peacefully, surrounded by dear friends and family, on Sunday, October 28, 2018. She was 86.


Heidi was born June 21, 1932, in Rochester, New York to Armand Denis and Leila Roosevelt Denis. She had three older siblings: David, Renée, and Armand.


Her mother was the daughter of photographer, filmmaker, and adventurer André Roosevelt, a cousin of President Theodore Roosevelt, and Adelheid Lange Roosevelt, an early cubist painter and sculptor who was also one of the first licensed female architects in the United States. Among Heidi’s fondest memories were the times spent with her grandmother “Big Heidi” (who stood 4' 10") at her home in Connecticut.


Her parents were noted adventurers and documentary filmmakers, and Heidi Ann grew up surrounded by artifacts and tales of their exploits. Thought too young to travel with her parents and siblings, she nonetheless inherited her parents’ love of animals, nature, photography, art, and music—passions she cultivated in herself and her children and grandchildren throughout her life.


In the early 1950s, while living in Florida with her young daughter Dian Borges, she met Nat Saffel of Morgantown whom she married and joined in the University City in 1955. She gave birth to three more children: Stephen, Lisa, and Lee Nathaniel (“Than”). Heidi was also stepmother to Nat’s son, David, who currently resides in Elkins, West Virginia.


During their early life in Morgantown she helped Nat build a photography business by developing, printing, and retouching photographs in a darkroom in their small home in Suncrest. In the days before digital retouching, her keen eye, meticulous attention to detail, and artistic skill were an essential component of the business’s success.  


In the early 1970s Heidi began working for radio station WAJR (later West Virginia Radio Corporation) where she was a copywriter and production coordinator for approximately 35 years. A lover of language, she found the copywriting work creatively challenging and the production work complex and satisfying.


Among those with whom she cultivated lifelong friendships were announcer Bucky Harris, salesman Ray DeVincent, color commentator Woody O’Hara, engineer John McKinney, on-air personalities Kay Murray, Loray Robinson, and Hoppy Kercheval, play-by-play announcer Tony Caridi, newspaper writers Judy Reckart and Norm Julian, and fellow copywriter Jim McCulla.


Heidi was an accomplished artist, specializing in photorealistic renderings in the difficult medium of colored pencil. She was also remarkably skilled in nearly every craft she attempted. She built and decorated much of the furniture in her own home, framed her own artwork, and made treasured toys, clothes, household goods, and stuffed animals for her children. She was never at a loss for a creative solution to a difficult problem.


She volunteered for the non-profit Monongalia County Walk and for the Literacy Volunteers of Monongalia & Preston Counties, where she received immense satisfaction from helping adults learn to read and write.


As a parent and grandparent, she treated children with the respect she believed all people deserve and took great pride and pleasure in the interests and exploits of her grandchildren and great grandchildren. 


She is survived by children Dian (Mark) Selby of Waukesha, WI, Stephen (Dana) Saffel of Forest Hills, NY, Lisa (Harold) Zappia of Shepherdstown, WV, and Than (Susan) Saffel of Morgantown, WV; grandchildren Mike (Lisa) Selby of Florida, Heidi Selby Seaborn of Wisconsin, Daniel and Allison Zappia and Rhowyn and Eli Saffel of West Virginia; and great grandchildren Alexandra Selby and Sarah and Hannah Seaborn of Wisconsin.


A private memorial service will be held next summer on Heidi’s birthday. Condolences and memories of her life may be sent to thansaffel@gmail.com to be shared with friends and family.


The family asks that donations in Heidi’s name be made to Literacy Volunteers of Monongalia & Preston Counties. Donations are accepted online via www.facebook.com/lvmpc or by check sent to their office: LVMPC, 235 High Street, Suite 317, Morgantown, WV 26505. For the latter, please note "In memory of Heidi Saffel" in the memo.


McCulla Funeral Home assisted the family with arrangements.