GALLIPOLIS — A special event commemorating the life and achievements of Gallia County native Orva Walker Heissenbuttel will occur at 2 p.m., Saturday, May 18 at the Ariel Opera House in Gallipolis.
A noted authority on antiques, Heissenbuttel was a journalist, lecturer and specialist in the category of American antique glass, particularly the glasswares produced in Ohio and West Virginia. She had a lengthy career teaching courses in antique furniture, china and glass, principally in the Washington D.C. area where she resided for decades.
The eldest daughter of Zelma Phillips and Jackson Tandy Walker, Heissenbuttel was born in 1927 near Cora, Perry Township. She was educated at Cora and Brushy Point one room school, then Perry Rural and Rio Grande High School where she was valedictorian of her class of 1945.
Returning to Gallia County often, she presented a seminar at Riverby, instructed classes on furniture refinishing and antique and collectible glass for the School of Homestead Living at Rio Grande College and an Antiques Workshop at the Ariel Opera House.
“I was fortunate to be able to take these classes with Orva,” said Ariel Founder and Executive Director Lora Lynn Snow. “She was a mentor to me and was an enormous help to the Ariel restoration project consulting with us on numerous occasions.”
Heissenbuttel was active conducting tours for the Smithsonian Association on American glassware and was a co-founder of the national Duncan Glass Society. She was an early advocate for the preservation of the Surratt Tavern and she founded the Surratt Society to provide docents for the organization. She was responsible for the rescue and preservation of the Chesapeake Carousel. In 1971, she founded and ran the American Antique Arts Association which had monthly lectures on antiques and art history making it available to everyone. She had a great love of gardening and even named her daughters Iris and Lilly.
Heissenbuttel, who passed away at her Virginia home in October 2018, leaves a legacy of thousands of students and readers of her Antiques and Americana columns for the Washington DC Star newspaper, and the thousands of members of the American Antiques and Arts Association, which she founded in 1971. She helped found numerous historic and preservation organizations around the country. Heissenbuttel took a particular interest in the restoration of the Ariel Opera House, and all who wish to honor her life are invited to join with the Walker family there on May 18.