Ronald Eugene "Gene" Heck, 76, of Le Mars, died Saturday, Dec. 17, 2005, surrounded by his family at the Happy Siesta Health Care Center in Remsen, following a five-year illness with Alzheimer's Disease.
Ronald Eugene Heck was born April 22, 1929, in rural Onawa, the son of Ulysses Grant and Mabel Terrance (Ferdig) Heck. He attended country school near Onawa and later in Smithland and Moorhead. He played baseball and was a proud member of the 1946 basketball team that played in the state tournament that year. He was voted Homecoming King of his 1947 senior class. Gene and his brother Vernon were active in 4-H and showed their cattle at the Monona County Fair. Following his education, Gene's family moved to Sioux City, where he was employed with the Sioux City Furniture Company.
Gene saw his future wife's picture in the Sioux City Journal as the 1949 Merrill Gladiolas Queen. He convinced a mutual friend to introduce them. Their love bagan on that first blind date Dec. 17, 1949. On Nov. 17, 1950, Gene and Fern Evelyn Hamilton were united in marriage at St. John's Lutheran Church in Merrill.
Gene and Fern made their home in Sioux City raising their six children in Leeds. Gene worked as a butcher at various grocery stores and owned Gene's Old Fashion Meat Market in the Sunset Plaza. He served as Leeds' Commercial Club President, was active with Boy Scouts of America, and the PTA. He was a member of Calvary Lutheran Church in Leeds and served as an usher, sat on the Finance Committee, and played dart ball. He also enjoyed softball and sponsored a team on which his son played.
In 1981 the family moved to Vermillion, S.D., where Gene cut meat for Piggly Wiggly. In Vermillion he was an active member of Concordia Lutheran Church and served as an elder. They retired to Le Mars in 1996. Gene was presently a member of Grace Lutheran Church in Le Mars.
Gene loved to play cards, to fish, watch sports, was an avid Iowa Hawkeye fan, and treasured the time spent with his family. Fern was most important to him. Even as the Alzheimer's ravaged his mind he still showered his queen with kisses and said "I love you" until he went to wait for her in heaven on the 56th anniversary of the day they met.
His family will forever remember their parents' as role models who taught them to love each other in sickness and in health.
Left on earth to share his memories are his wife Fern of Le Mars; sons Tom (Debbie) of Leeds; Terry (Rochelle) of Climbing Hill, Timothy (Brenda) of Leeds, Todd (Lisa) of Spencer, IA; daughters Lynne (Martin) Pippett of Merrill, Loriann Nelson of Craig; grandchildren Corey (Beth) Heck of Omaha, Neb., Stacey (Matt) Huttermann of Dakota City, Neb., Jennifer (Brett) Beach of Wichita, Kan., Matt (Tracy) Heck of Moville, Marcy (Ira) Wall of Merrill, Marty (Maria) Pippett, Chris (Jill) Pippett, Craig Pippett, Michael Pippett, all of Le Mars, Jason Heck, Ryan Heck and Sara Heck, all of Sioux City, Tyler Heck of Spencer, Mariah Nelson of Sioux City, Nick Nelson, Capriah and Noah Nelson of Craig; great-grandchildren Emily Heck, Kaynan, Jara, Gavin, and Keegan Pippett, Andrew and Madison Hattermann, Maddi and MaKenzie Pippett, Hannah Pippett and Daisy Pippett; a brother, Vernon of Climbing Hill; a sister, Ilene (Jerry) Cooper of Portland, Ore.; a brother and sister-in-law, Bill and Mary Hamilton of Merrill Ia and a sister and brother-in-law, Marlin and Joyce Hutton of Windsor Colo.
Those who met him at Heaven's gate include his parents; a sister, Vera Faye Heck; his mother and father-in-law, Wesley and Mabel Hamilton and a sister-in-law, Viola Heck.
Funeral services will take place at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Grace Lutheran Church in Le Mars. The Rev. Larry Fett will officiate. Burial will follow at Hillside Cemetery in Merrill. Visitation will begin at 2 p.m. today (Tuesday) at the Mauer - Johnson Funeral Home in Le Mars. The family will be present from 6-8 p.m. with a prayer service at 7 p.m. There will also be one hour of visitation at the church prior to the funeral. Honorary pallbearers will be Gene's grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Pallbearers will be Corey Heck, Matthew Heck, Marty Pippett, Jason Heck, Tyler Heck and Nicholas Nelson.