Bromley Roger Heath


Bromley Roger Heath is the 16-year-old son of Justin and Shelley Heath of rural Colome, SD.  He was born on a cold winter day, January 6, 2006.  He left his loving family to join Heaven on November 16, 2022, in the comfort of his home, surrounded by his family.

Bromley always said he was the perfect middle child.  His siblings made his world go around.  They were his buddies, partners in crime, fort builders, movie watchers and caretakers.  He was their leader, and they were his.  Bromley was a detail kind of guy.  From the time he was little, he liked things a particular way.  As his ability slowly left, he accepted it with a grace that only God gave him.

Bromley was diagnosed with Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy in March of 2011.  At the time, we had hoped for ten years and we were blessed with eleven years of his smile, infectious personality, and facial expressions.  He had just turned five, was in preschool with his friends.  As he transitioned through the years at the Colome School, which was in his top three places to be, his classmates transitioned with him.  He walked until August 2013, at which time he transitioned to a powerchair, this would have been second grade.  His classmates became his hands and feet and would do anything for him.  They helped him with homework and Bromley helped them back, they got his lunch tray and fed him, they were his protectors.  Bromley was like a magnet at school, everyone just stuck to him.

The powerchair gave him a freedom to be with his friends and family.  He  made tracks everywhere…barnyard, getting stuck in the mud, exploring at rodeos, driving down to the barn with his best dog, Mister.  Mister filled a spot in Bromley’s heart and was his faithful companion to the end.

Bromley was in a terrible burn accident on January 1, 2017, and burnt his legs and left hand.  The healing process took a long time, but he never complained about it.  He always said he couldn’t wear shorts because he didn’t want others to be jealous of his legs.  As time took it’s toll on his body, it became important to do a spinal fusion surgery.  This was a very scary, hard surgery for a boy in his condition, this was November 2018.  As usual, he triumphed.  He had two rods placed in his back that straightened his smashed body, it was like he grew six inches.  When he got in the van the first time, he was so happy he could see out the window.

Bromley’s days were spent either at school or home.  He loved that his cousins were at both places.  Klayton and Bromley had a bond that only they could share.  Those boys would do anything together, and Klayton always listened to what Bromley wanted.  From playing outside, to gator rides, exploring, watching movies, PlayStation…they enjoyed all those times together.

As he kept losing muscle, his interests changed.  He enjoyed playing football and farming on the PlayStation until his hands couldn’t hold the remote.  His phone gave him a new freedom too.  He enjoyed getting Snapchats from his friends and playing HayDay.  He and Mister would take off for a drive with his phone in hand, this way if they needed something, he could call for help.

As he became a teenager, he had a beautiful, deep, strong voice.  When he should have been able to drive, we let three 14-year-old boys take the van to outdoor movies.  Klayton and Joseph would enjoy evenings at the movie eating some McDonalds and Dairy Queen.  Occasionally, other friends and cousins would join in on the fun.

He loved America.  He loved Ohio State football.  He loved shopping on Amazon and putting things in the cart, most things were red, white and blue or football.  Most of his clothes had something American about them, all the way to his American underwear and socks.  He loved comfortable clothes.  He loved his mom’s food. He loved his dads’ stories.  He loved every part of life, from trees to the animals on the ranch, he loved watching things grow and change.  He loved the warmth of the sun, summertime, working cattle, helping at the arena, doing chores and telling Jakob what he needed to do.

He enjoyed watching Dukes of Hazard, Hawaii 5-O, Home Improvement, Fast n Furious movies, anything with history and would watch YouTube videos on how to build things.  His favorite food was spaghetti with summer corn and homemade fresh buns.   He loved a good burger and wimpy, his grandma’s apple pie with cheese, and homemade lemonade.

We will always wonder what he would have been, had he been given a different path.  He loved watching HGTV and would say what he would fix.  He had style and a visual mind that might have made him a builder.  He would have loved to play football.  He told us, “I would have been the quarterback.  And I would bull dog.”  Along with being a team roper and calf roper.  He never got the chance to do any of those but got to watch a lot.  He could tell you what you did wrong, in a kind way.

We were able to make memories away from home.   In 2015, we enjoyed a Make a Wish trip to Rapid for the Stock Show.  In 2015, we went to see Willie Robertson in Louisiana, then enjoyed Silver Dollar City at Branson, MO.  He always wanted to go back to Branson.  Both side of his family enjoyed the Louisiana trip.  In 2018, his burn doctor gifted him seats to a Minnesota Wild Hockey game.  Just this year we enjoyed a Heath Family ski trip in January 2022.

Bromley loved Jesus and wanted to be at church, go to youth group, and learn about the Bible stories.  His memory was sharp and he could remember details that the rest of us couldn’t.   The three places he wanted to be were church, home and school.  This filled his life with a completeness that gave him comfort.  He felt like he fit in and didn’t stand out.  In the last year, our row has been quite empty or with only part of us there.  In these times we would do “home church.”  We had some of the best sharing times during our home church.

Bromley is survived by his parents Justin and Shelley Heath; siblings: Wiley of Norfolk, NE, Saydee, attending USF in Sioux Falls, Seth, a freshmen and Jakob, a 5th grader at Colome; his maternal grandparents, Todd & Renee Cook of Mills, NE, and Roland & Debe Horstman of Dell Rapids, SD;  his paternal grandparents, Roger & Janell Heath of Colome;  uncles and aunts: Brett & Cheyenne Heath, Colome, Kevin & Lexi Heath, Onida, SD, Kevin & Marti Kingsley, Colome, Becky Hoffine, Colome, Chris & Tracy Dehning, Gregory, SD, Shawn & Stacy Anderson, Norfolk, NE, TJ & Meagan Cook, Norfolk, NE, Jay Horstman, Brookings, SD, and Derrick & Jessica DeWitt, Dell Rapids, SD; cousins:  Cody, Kristina and Makenzie Heath, Romona, SD, Callie Heath, Pierre, SD, Kaydee Heath, Overton, NE, Kash, Klayton and Braxton Heath, Colome, Aspen Heath, Watertown, SD, Saige & Jace Heath, Onida; Shaleena, Raelynn & Bode Kingsley, Colome, Cohl & Savannah Ratermann, Brookings, SD, Baylie & Ashlyn Hoffine, Colome, Raylynn, Bentley, Baya, Bryden Dehning of Gregory, SD, Shace, Shelton & Sydney Anderson of Norfolk, NE, Lainee, Piper & Lincoln Cook, Norfolk, NE, Aubrey, Connor, & Austin DeWitt, Dell Rapids, SD, and Ayasha & Brooke Jarrett, Colome, foster cousins.

He was preceded in death by maternal great grandparents, Roy and Ruby Stevicks and William and Gertrude Horstman, and paternal great grandparents, Clarence and Frieda Heath and Gus and Orene Weidner.