Harriet “Scotty” Veals was born Harriet Wheeler Wales in Linden, New Jersey, on May 18, 1924 and died April 12, 2022. She was the youngest of six children and the only one born in the United States. Her parents, Alexander in 1922, followed by his wife Janet Fleck Wales with five children in 1923, immigrated from Scotland and settled in New Jersey. Her oldest brother Alex was killed in France during World War II, but her other siblings, John, Betty, Jean, and Janet, all lived into their 90s. She was proud of her Scottish heritage and was known to friends and family as Scotty.
Scotty was an independent woman and ahead of her time in many ways. In Linden High School (Class of 42), she was active in sports, including baseball, basketball, volleyball, table tennis, and track. It was also in high school that she met the love of her life, Robert “Bob” Veals, a member of the chemistry club and home room president.
The times were turbulent and the United States entered World War II on December 8, 1941. Bob joined the Navy in July, 1942, and the couple married on February 18, 1943. Scotty was proud to contribute to the war effort as a riveter helping to build FM-2 Wildcats. Scotty followed Bob to Morro Bay, California where he completed training before shipping out to the Pacific in February, 1945. Scotty was pregnant with their first child. Joyce, named for their joy in her arrival, was born in September of 1945. The war was over and the young family settled in Winfield, N.J. before moving to Middletown, N.J. where they would welcome two more daughters, Bonnie (1948) and Bobbi (1950). Scotty went to work for New Jersey Bell once the girls were older, a job she loved and kept until her retirement.
In the Early 1950s, Scotty and Bob purchased a cottage in Ocean Beach, N.J. During nearly 60 glorious summers, the cottage was filled with the laughter of immediate and extended family members. Her daughters, and her nieces followed by the next generation, spent long summer days reading, playing board games, learning to swim at the bay beach, jumping the waves at the ocean beach, and learning about nature while exploring the docks, catching crabs and hiking along the shorelines. Each morning, Scotty woke all the sleeping youngsters by opening the blinds, and cheerfully proclaiming, “Good morning merry sunshine, what makes you wake so soon? You scared away the starlight and shined away the moon.” She helped us learn the lessons of responsibility, sharing, independence, and the importance of family.
In 1985 after retiring from New Jersey Bell, Scotty and Bob moved to Casselberry, Florida. They purchased a home next door to her sister Betty and her husband Russell, long time Florida residents, and across the street from her sister Jean and her husband Gene, also newly moved to Florida. The three couples had good times and the three sisters were sometimes jokingly referred to as the “Golden Girls”. There were regular visits from their children, nieces and nephews, grandchildren and grandnieces and nephews.
In 2004, Scotty and Bob moved back to New Jersey to be close to their youngest daughter, Bobbi. Scotty cared for her beloved husband (1923-2014) through Alzheimer’s and then her daughter Bobbi who lost her husband in a tragic car accident and later suffered a stroke. Scotty eventually moved back to Florida, spending the last five years with her nieces. Her final year was spent at Serenades, in Longwood, Florida. She was a popular resident and entertained the caregivers with her great sense of humor.
Scotty really enjoyed a good meal and always ate her vegetables, but her love of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches earned her the moniker “The PB and J Kid”. She also never turned down a sweet treat and among her favorites were caramel lattes and jelly donuts. But she always practiced and extolled the virtues of moderation.
Scotty loved to sing and, although she jokingly claimed to know only one note, she sang that note with gusto. She loved children’s songs and children across the generations loved listening to her sing selected renditions of the many songs she knew. She even recorded a requested playlist for her great great-grandniece. Scotty also loved patriotic songs and relished any opportunity to sing them. Among her favorites were the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “God Bless America”.
Scotty was preceded in death by her husband of 71 years, Robert; her siblings, Alex, John, Betty, Jean, and Janet; daughter, Bonnie; and son-in-law, Don Merce. She is survived by two daughters, Joyce H. Veals of Daytona Beach, Florida and Bobbi Merce of Marion, Iowa; seven grandchildren, Jennifer Schwarz and her husband James, Jody, Richard and his wife Krista, Rebecca, Elizabeth Buttaci and her husband Vincent, Christian, and Meredith Meier and her husband Adam; six great grandchildren, Madison, Hailey, Bryce, Aric, Benjamin, and Catalina. She also leaves numerous nieces and nephews, grandnephews and grandnieces, great-grandnephews and great-grandnieces, and one great great-grand niece, all of whom loved her and will miss her very much.