Victor E. “Gene” Heath was born is Austin on June 29, 1906. At the age of 13 he became Peter Mansbendel’s apprentice and worked closely with him until he graduated from Austin High School in 1924. At Peter’s recommendation, Victor then attended Cooper Union Institute of Advanced Arts in New York City and graduated in 1928. Upon graduating, he moved to Houston and formed a furniture making business along with a partner. He was a talented woodworker and woodcarver. Peter considered Victor a second son, and their close relationship is evidenced by multiple letters between them.