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R. "Tod" Heckaman

February 6, 2014
R. "Tod" Heckaman
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Obituary for R. "Tod" Heckaman

Tod was born in Canton where he spent most of his life until he and his wife Jane moved to the Cincinnati area to be closer to family in 1995. Shortly after he graduated from Canton McKinley High School in 1933, his mother died. He recently shared how much he had missed her. He met the love of his life, Jane Richards, in English class in High School. They were married in 1939, and her death in 2012 after 73 years of marriage broke his heart. He worked his way through Mount Union College as a chemistry major thinking of later becoming a doctor. This happened during the Great Depression and made him always very frugal. He hated to spend money and if he did not think he was getting a good deal he was upset. After college he was a department manager at a Sears store in Canton. When World War II started he became a tank armaments inspector at Republic Steel in Massillon. His daughter Susan was born in 1942-but he was drafted 6 months later in 1943. He spent almost 3 years in the army, 2 of which were at a base in Assam, India just miles from the Burma Road. A Staff Sergeant in a headquarters unit, he was near airbases that flew supplies into China over the Himalayas and sent trucks down the Burma road. He really missed his wife and daughter. Jane wrote him every day during those years. Tod returned home in 1946 and his son David was born in 1947. He went to Kent State on the GI Bill and got a Master�s Degree in Education. He taught for about 27 years in the Canton area, most of his years at Lehman High School in the Canton City Schools. He taught physics, biology, and some chemistry. He loved teaching, storytelling, and learning, getting summer grants to go to Michigan State, Xavier, and Akron. One of his most memorable experiences was being chosen for a summer fellowship for college and high school teachers after �Sputnik� to study nuclear physics at Harvard/MIT in 1958. His family spent the summer with him in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For four summers from 1955 to 1959 the whole family spent time in government housing at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park. Tod was a seasonal ranger naturalist and gave talks at campfire programs, nature walks, and in front of Old Faithful before it erupted. He loved this outdoor work. He always enjoyed taking hikes and describing the animals and plant life along the way. On his days off he would lead his family up difficult climbs, or into canyons, or along streams and lakes to fish. Many times the family struggled, grumbling, to keep up. He was reminded of this many times during his life and he would respond how great it was. After he retired in 1977, he and Jane travelled all over the world. Tod said they had flown over the Atlantic and Pacific 26 times. He kept busy for 15 years volunteering at Aultman Hospital in Canton. He would transport patients to appointments in the hospital � one day he wore a pedometer and he had walked 5 miles. He built Jane a harpsichord which she played around Canton. He had been a musician as a young man playing a violin or �fiddle� as he called it and leading a big band type dance band � he loved Lawrence Welk. Tod played the drums in the drum and bugle corps in the army because he could get out of K. P. He always tuned Jane�s piano and harpsichord because he had a perfect ear. The last years he was devoted to caring for his wife Jane. He did this with extraordinary patience as she struggled with dementia. He said that was the least he could do for her since she wrote him every day while he was in the service and took care of him most of her life. He never really wanted to let her go until her last day. What a great model as an encouraging father, husband, and lover of life and learning. He always thought of others and did not want to inconvenience anyone. He was a gentleman. People remember him as a dignified, yet humble and happy man. He joked about finally starting to get old on his 98th birthday. He had been so active and so sharp � he knew he was slipping and he wasn�t that happy. Also, his heart was broken when Jane died and he said he was ready to be with her and the Lord. Behind this was a strong faith. His faith grew stronger after the death of his mother. He always enjoyed nature and science as an extension of God�s universe. What a legacy he leaves for us to remember. Well done faithful servant. Friends and family are welcome Wednesday, Feb. 12th, 10:00 am until time of service, 11:00 am, all at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 101 S. Lebanon Rd, Loveland, 45140. Interment will take place 2:00 pm at Dayton National Cemetery. If desired, memorial donations may be directed to the church or to Crossroads Hospice, 4360 Glendale Milford Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45242

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