Robert Lawrence Heilman, age 94, living in La Crescent MN the last two years, but spent the majority of his life in La Crosse, WI died July 22, 2020 at his home at Springbrook Village.
Bob was born on December 20, 1925 and was raised in the Norwalk, WI area. His parents were Lawrence and Mercedes (Koch) Heilman. He married Bernadette (Leis) Heilman, also from Norwalk, WI on June 9, 1949. They were married 70 years.
Bob was known to be a hard worker his entire life. One of his first jobs was working for Clarence Dittman’s farm on Summit Ridge at the age of 13. This is when he developed his love for this beautiful spot. His dream was to one day own this spot, which he did when he retired. It was he and Bernadette’s heaven on earth, and it is now heaven on earth to his children and grandchildren.
At some point during his childhood, he was given the nickname Hooty. This nickname stuck with him his entire life.
Bob enlisted in the United States Navy in 1944 and was discharged in May of 1946. He was part of the United States Navy Armed Guard. The Armed Guard provided security for Victory Ships, transporting armaments, troops and supplies to the troops in Europe. Bob made trips to North Africa, England and Antwerp, Belgium. As a WWII Vet he was very honored to be accepted for the first Honor Flight to Washington DC. Bob was also honored by the La Crosse Loggers during one of their home games as Veteran of the Day. Bob and Bernadette were long time Logger fans. He was very proud of his service to our country.
After the service he worked at the Norwalk Creamery. From there he went to Coca Cola Bottling Company in La Crosse. He worked in sales and moved on to management and was the General Sales manager of La Crosse, Wisconsin Dells and Plover. At one point in time he became a partner in ownership of these businesses. He was very well known in La Crosse as the “Coke man”.
He was very involved in his community and especially loved working with kids. He was president of the Red Raider Rooters Booster Club and President of the Warriors Baton and Drum Corp.
He was a long-time member of the Downtown Optimist Club. He was also very involved with the VFW and for many years served on the House Committee. He worked many omelet breakfasts. He was also a member of the American legion. He always enjoyed riding in the Memorial Day parade, placing flags on the grave sites of his comrades and a member of the VFW honor guard, that served at many Veterans funerals.
Two of his best buddies in the world are Harlan Thompson and John Haag. They along with my dad and Steve, made it a regular ritual on Wednesday nights to go to Hillbillies Bar and Grill on French Island for three beers and food. It was an outing he always looked forward to. Thanks to their many friends at Hillbillies and the fact that they were WWII and Korean veterans they never paid for a beer.
His greatest joy in this world was his family. He was tremendously proud of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
He is survived by his son Steve and favorite daughter in law Frankie Heilman, Steve and Frankie’s son
Tony Heilman, his wife Danielle and their sons Nicholas, Peyton and Noah, their daughter Katherine, and her husband Devin Proctor and their children Eleanora and Bruno Proctor. He is also survived by his daughter Debbie Colgan and favorite son in law Tim, Debbie and Tim’s son Christopher Colgan and daughter Kelly Colgan Hammen, husband Derek Hammen and their son Calvin Hammen. He is also survived by his brother and sister-in-law Don and Marilyn Heilman and sister Theresa Tomsicek,
And brother-in-law Lyle Karis. He is also survived by his brother-in –law and Sister-in-law Jerome (Pam) Leis. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his loving wife of 70 years, Bernadette, who passed away on November 11, 2019 (Veterans Day). He was preceded in death by his parents and Bernadette’s parents, brother Harlan Heilman, brother-in-law Clifford Tomsicek, brother-in-law and sister-in-law Norbert (Esther)Leis, brother-in-law and sister-in-law Francis(Joan)Leis, sister-in-law Juliana Karis, sister –in-law and brother- in- law Florentina(Vic)Doll and sister in law La Vonne Leis.
A private family mass of Christian burial will be Tuesday July 28th at 10:30am at Holy Trinity Catholic Church. Father Rick Roberts will officiate. Burial will be at the Norwalk cemetery at a later date.
Memorials can be made to Holy Trinity Endowment Trust 1333 13th St.S. La Crosse, WI 54601 or Freedom Honor Flight PO Box 505 La Crosse, WI 54602-0505
We would love to thank David Momont, dad’s doctor for many years. They loved talking about everything under the sun, especially the outdoors. Visits to the doctor were many times longer than expected because Dr. Momont always took the time for a visit.
We also want to thank the staff at Springbrook Village in La Crescent for their kindness and compassion for dad during this difficult Covid time.