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Charles L. Heilman

Posted January 08, 2015 in Des Moines West, Obituaries, West Des Moines

Charles L. Heilman passed away peacefully in his sleep on Friday, January 2, 2015.

Family will greet friends at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, February 4, 2015 at Grace United Methodist Church, located at 3700 Cottage Grove in Des Moines.

A service of remembrance will be held at 11 am followed by an open house/lunch.

Chuck was born on March 28, 1918 in Bellevue, OH. He was a card-carrying member of the Greatest Generation. When he was 12, his family broke apart and he and his four brothers and sisters went to live with aunts and uncles or in an orphanage. Some thirty years later, at age 42, he was offered a position as Assistant Secretary of Education for Pakistan. He was also summoned to meet with Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie to discuss his ideas for improving education in that country. And he still had more than half of his life ahead of him.

Charles L. Heilman

Charles L. Heilman

While in North Africa during WWII, he and a buddy decided that they should climb to the top of the Great Pyramid at Giza. About a third of the way up, they were discovered and ordered down at gunpoint. They didn’t realize that the entire Allied African Command was meeting at the time within rifle range of the pyramid.

Education was his passion. He taught at Drake University for 39 years. He also taught around the globe convinced that education was the path forward for improving the lives of the have-nots of the world. He served on many boards and commissions, some Mayoral, some Gubernatorial, some Presidential. A number of these he chaired. Fulbright Scholarships are a very high honor in the world of education. Chuck received two.

He was humble and unassuming. The only time he ever tooted his own horn was when he played the tuba in high school and college. He was captain of the Capital University football team where his nickname was “Little But Mighty”. The school inducted him into their Hall of Fame. These are but a few of his many many achievements. He had an amazing life.

He is survived by his sister, Joyce Alderson; brother, William Heilman; son, Stephen (Chris); a second son, Bruce (Kay); daughter, Laurie Jacobs (Jos); six wonderful grandchildren, Erik, Bryan, Lesley, Sara, Leah and Tim; and five (and a-half) great grandchildren. Chuck was preceded in death by his wife, Marguerite; brother, Robert; sister, Jean; and his youngest son, Gregory.

Chuck and Margo were married for 63 years. Together they traveled the globe. While one may think that he has now taken his last trip, we know that this was merely his next trip. Margo most certainly met him at the Station, and they are right now no doubt planning their next excursion, perhaps to the Eagle Nebula to watch some stars being born.

If you are thinking about a memorial contribution, please consider either the Drake University College of Education Building Fund or the Grace United Methodist Church Missions Fund. Chuck would be grateful.

ARRANGEMENTS BY ILES DUNN’S CHAPEL. 





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