Obituary of Howard Mennell Heck
Howard Mennell Heck, lovingly known as Pa, Papa or Hecky to many, passed away on Tuesday, October 3, 2023, as his daughters sang him to sleep, and surrounded by his family. Howard was just 39 days shy of his 100th birthday.
Howard will be lovingly remembered by his children, Howard Mennell (Karen), Mary Elizabeth (John), Marian Annette, Catherine Elaine (Anthony), and Wayne Dewitt, 10 grandchildren (Rachel, Josh, Sarah, Cate, Megan, Emily, Jennifer, TJ, Matthew and Alex) and 7 great grandchildren (Grace, Anabel, Calvin, Quincy, Temperance, Fisher and Carlisle). Howard was predeceased by his wife of 69 years, Dora Belle "Billie" Heck, his parents, Rachel and Charles, and his sisters Elaine and Flora.
Howard was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on November 11, 1923, and was raised in Craig and Lincoln Nebraska from the age of six. He lost his father before moving to Nebraska and took on the role of caring for his mother and sisters although he was very young himself. He became a strong, resilient, uncomplaining, hard-working, loving and caring man early in his life and these attributes stayed with him throughout his 99 years. Howard got his degree in Geology from the University of Nebraska after enlisting in the U.S. Marines in 1942. Howard served as a tail gunner in the VMB-423 squadron and was stationed in the South Pacific on Green Island. After the war, he met the love of his life, Billie, and they would marry in 1949. Howard kept in touch with many of his Marine buddies through countless reunions, the last of which was scheduled for his 100th birthday later this year. Howard was the last remaining member of the VMB-423 reunion attendees and will be dearly missed by his reunion family. Howard enlisted in the Marine reserves after the war, and then went onto make his career as a Geologist for Marathon Oil Company. Howard and Billie moved to Littleton, CO in 1961 with their five children to work for the Marathon Oil Company Research Center and settled down in what still remains their family home to this day.
Howard excelled in all he did, beating the odds over and over again in life. Whether it was saying "I'm tall enough" to a Marine doctor before enlisting for WWII, or recovering from a
broken hip at the age of 97; Howard never failed. He inspired others to be their best self and led by example throughout his entire life. Howard was a talented painter, master woodworker, avid reader, lifelong football fan, loved the ocean and listening to music, could play a mean game of cards and was a cowboy at heart. He was always up for an adventure of any kind, and was famous for his daily saying, “What’s on the docket for tomorrow?” He was a steadfast friend to many and his neighbors provided happiness and comfort to his colorful life.
Howard valued family above all else. The bond he shared with his mother and sisters was sincere and lifelong. He gave his five children a lifetime of love, memories, traditions and guidance that cannot be expressed in words. He spoiled his grandchildren with sleepovers, vacations, magical Christmas's, a home away from home, and special birthday parties. He held his great grandchildren in his arms and let them run amuck in his house as children do. He cherished being a beloved uncle and friend to his sisters’ children and to Billie’s nieces and nephews. To Howard, family is what mattered most. Together with his wife, Howard and Billie created a family blessed with love and friendship, a rare gift that will continue to live on for generations. He truly was one of a kind; a man you couldn't help but admire, a true friend. He was smart, funny and handsome, and above all else a loving husband, father and grandfather. Pa, you were an inspiration to us all. You will forever be missed, and loved even longer.
A Celebration of Life will be held on November 11, 2023 at Southglenn Country Club in Centennial Colorado from 2:00-6:00 PM. Howard will be interred with Military Honors at Fort Logan Cemetery on a future date, to be announced. Condolences, loving memories and pictures are very appreciated by the family. In lieu of flowers, please consider laying a wreath on a veteran’s grave on Veterans’ Day through Wreaths Across America, or giving to two of Howard’s favorite charities: the Wounded Warrior Project and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. His friends and family are invited to share happy memories and celebrate Howard’s life in the way he would want to be remembered - as a loving, admirable, and caring man who enjoyed life.