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Dennis Wayne Heck, 71, passed away Sunday, May 12, 2019 at St. Joseph Medical Center after a brief but mighty battle with a post-surgery infection.
He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Mary (Thiele) Heck; his four children Ben (Brandi) Heck, Beth Heck, Katie (Erik) DeLucenay, and Matt Heck; his five grandchildren Joe, Anna, Jacob, Madeline and Foster; his sister, Sandy (George) Cook; and many close friends.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Mary (Hominiuk) Heck; father, Charles Heck; and his beloved dogs, Eli, Ollie, Arthur, Charlie and soon to be Bob if Mary has her way! The family is hopeful that Molly (the white devil) will stop eating the house carpets so she can stick around longer.
Dennis was born on July 7, 1947 in La Porte, IN and moved to South Bend, IN where he attended St. Patrick and Pierre Navarre Elementary Schools and Washington High School. He graduated from University of Notre Dame in 1969, completed postgraduate studies in the sociology of health and medicine at University of Notre Dame from 1970-1973, and earned his MBA from Indiana University in 1977. He started his career teaching middle school at St. Monica and St. Jude Catholic Schools from 1971 to 1973. He spent the rest of his career devoted to healthcare in the South Bend/Mishawaka community, holding several leadership positions at Ancilla Health (St. Joseph Mishawaka) and St. Joseph Regional Medical Center where he was president and CEO from 1985 to 1997. Dennis also worked tirelessly to improve healthcare for the underprivileged, holding board seats at organizations including Visiting Nurse Association, United Way, Project Future, and Chamber of Commerce. We are proud to say he made a difference for the community he loved.
Dennis had many hobbies in life, but his true passions revolved around spending time with family and friends, doing the things that he loved including fishing, golf, movies, reading, sporting events, vacations, Civil War battle field trips with this lifelong friend, Dr. Steve Gable, and Christmas Eve parties. Most of these hobbies included a cigar or pipe and a Jameson on the rocks (“with a little bit of water”). He was a devoted sports fan and loved all things Notre Dame but especially football. He also cheered hard for the Cubs, Blackhawks and Bears in between Notre Dame sports. It was common for him to sit with the TV on mute, with his foot on the stool, ready to kick it across the room in the likely event of a bad play or bad call. He loved to vacation with family and friends especially to Disney World; Gloucester, MA; Cisco Lake; and Hilton Head trips with Gables, Englerts and Bankoffs. Later in life, he loved spending time at his home away from home in Ludington, MI on Hamlin Lake.
Dennis was ultimately a loyal son of Notre Dame, devote Catholic, dedicated leader in the community, and dear friend to many. Most importantly, Dennis was the best husband and father that his family could ever ask for.
Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Christ the King Catholic Church on Thursday, May 16, 2019, with a gathering at 3:30pm followed by mass at 5:30pm. A private graveside service and burial of ashes will take place at a later date. Palmer Funeral Home—Hickey Chapel is assisting the family with arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be donated online to Sister Maura Brannick Health Center at www.sjmedgiving.com/donate (Designation: Sister Maura Brannick Health Center) or via mail to St. Joseph Health System, Sister Maura Brannick Health Center, 326 Chapin Street, South Bend, IN 46601.
Online condolences may be left for the Heck family at www.palmerfuneralhomes.com.