Heather Tuomala

Heather Denise Tuomala


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Obituary of Heather Denise Tuomala

Heather Denise Tuomala of Swansea, SC passed away on Sunday, March 19, 2023 at the age of 48 years. Heather was born on July 29, 1974 at Fort Leonard Wood, MO where her father, William Conway, was stationed while in the Army. In her younger years while her father was in the service, Heather lived in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; Ansbach, Germany; Granite City, Illinois; Giessen, Germany; Petersburg, Virginia; and Hopkins, South Carolina. She graduated from Lower Richland High School, Hopkins, SC in 1992.

On April 5, 1993, Heather gave birth to the love of her life, her son, Matthew Derrick Gunning. Heather was only 18 years old when she had Matthew, but she loved him dearly. In looking through some of the poems that Heather wrote, we came across the following one that expressed some of her love for Matthew:

My Son

A little baby fragile and small,

I wonder as he grows, will he be short or tall?

It doesn’t really matter much, at least not to me.

As long as he’s happy and healthy, and is what he wants to be.

And as he grows, those first cute smiles will turn into laundry in great big piles.

But no matter what, our bond will endure,

Through the most wonderful and awful things that may incur.

One final thought for my wonderful son:

Try not to fight, and don’t be afraid to run.

Remember this thought in all you say and do:

No matter what happens, Mommy loves you!

Heather had a smile, a look, and a warmth that radiated to everyone. She did not meet a stranger and when you became her friend, she loved you. She would always do for others without thinking about it. She would always consider doing and helping everyone else before she thought about doing for herself. She was always thinking about buying birthday or Christmas presents for her friends’ children even when she didn’t have money for herself. She truly loved. Heather made friends wherever she went and emitted a light that surrounded her with true friendships.

About a decade ago, Heather became a Tupperware consultant to help supplement her income. With this job came a whole new era of friendships. She not only sold Tupperware, but gained some lasting friendships with this job. She became successful as a Director and enjoyed encouraging those on her team as well as not on her team. Her Director had the following words to say about Heather: “She grew in her self-confidence and shared her beautiful light with everyone she met. She stepped out of her comfort zone and pushed new goals to reach Director …”

Heather’s full time job was with Affinity Group as a Customer Service Representative, and recently Office Manager. Heather worked for this organization for over 20 years, with the company changing names several times over the years she worked there. Heather was very dedicated to her job as is demonstrated by the number of years she worked there. Most individuals her age have never worked at any company more than 20 years.

The next two loves of Heather’s life showed up as the sweetest grandbabies in the whole world. Zachary Gunning was born on September 16, 2019 and Lydia Gunning on November 6, 2020. These babies were her world which was evident from her Facebook page. When you spoke with Heather, she always managed to bring her beloved grandbabies into the conversation. Her life revolved around them, and no one ever doubted her love for them.

Heather and Billy Tuomala first met when they were in high school. They hooked up again a few years ago and learned they had missed a lot of years together. They decided they truly were soul mates and married less than two years ago. Unfortunately, they did not get to share their lives together as newlyweds envision.

Heather is survived by her loving parents, William G. and Joan E. Conway of Wimauma, FL; husband, William P. Tuomala of Swansea, SC; son, Matthew D. Gunning and Daughter-in-law, Brittany Gunning of Columbia, SC; grandchildren Zachary and Lydia Gunning of Columbia, SC; step-grandchildren, Lexi and Emma Bell of Columbia, SC; brother, David M. Conway (Christy Bentley) of Cincinnati, Ohio; niece, Brianna Conway of Florence, KY; and many other family members and relatives from previous marriages. Heather will be missed so much by everyone whose life she touched.

Heather's Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, March 25, 2023 from 3:00 - 5:00 PM at American Legion, 4069 Edmund Hwy, West Columbia, SC 29170.

South Carolina Cremation Society is assisting the family. Family and friends may sign the online guest book by clicking on the “Tribute Wall” tab above.


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Celebration of Life

3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Saturday, March 25, 2023
American Legion
4069 Edmund Hwy
West Columbia, South Carolina, United States