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1936 - 2015 Obituary Condolences Gallery
CAPTAIN CLAIR EUGENE HECKATHORN, RET. Went on Eternal Patrol December 10, 2015 Captain Heckathorn was born in 1936 in Mercer County, PA to parents Marian Woods and Clair Roosevelt Heckathorn. He was raised on a farm that had no electricity, indoor pluming or central heating until he was 12 years old. He learned and developed quality traits early in life, such as good work habits, responsibility, cooper-ation with others, respect of neighbors and respect for the envi-ronment. They ate healthy farm food and learned to entertain themselves. His mother pushed him to excel in school, which he did. His senior year he was Valedictorian of the class of 1954, captain of the football and basket-ball team. Basketball team went to the state finals. He was president or vice president of the class for the last 5 years. He received 3 scholar-ship offers: an appoint-ment to the U.S.Naval Academy, a NROTC scholarship to Penn State, and a football scholarship to Brown University. He accepted the NORTC scholarship and augmented financial needs by washing dishes, waiting on tables and working during summer and vacations. He received a bachelor of science degree in industrial engineering and a commission in the United States Navy in 1958. His 30 year Naval career was fantastic. He molded the lives of hundreds of young men and women right out of high school. He visited many countries on 5 continents. He served on the aircraft carrier USS TICONDEROGA, he volunteered for and was selected for the submarine service. His first assignment was the USS TUNNY, following subs. (SSG-282), USS PICKEREL, USS TIRU, USS PICUDA and the ship USS BIDDLE (DLG-34). The USS BIDDLE did search and rescue of downed pilots off the coast of Vietnam. The USS BIDDLE went back a second time and we didn't talk about that trip. He was head of NSWSES POINT DEFENSE SYSTEMS DEPARTMENT CODE 4700 at Point Mugu. The Navy sent him to Post Graduate School in Monterey where he earned his masters degree in Engineering. Education: B. S. I .E. Penn State University M. S. E.E. Naval Post Grad School at Monterey Per-sonal Military Decorat-ons in addition to unit awards Navy Achieve-ment Medal (1) Navy commendation Me-dal (3) Meritorious Service Medal (2) Legion of Merit (1) His next duty was Program Manager in Washington, DC. for an International Missile project for 6 years. He was assigned as the lead negotiator represent the United States for the negotiation of an inter-national Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) among 3 countries. The program was the "Ram" or "Rolling Air Frame". Captains last job for the Navy was as Commanding Officer of the Naval Weapons Station, Charlston, SC. He was responsible for 17,000 acre Weapon Station. He was responsible for 18,000 people who either worked or lived there. He was landlord for 2700 homes. He moved to Springfield, OR and volunteered at the Springfield High School, helped paint the small church we attended and sang tenor in the choir. We lived on the McKenzie River where he enjoyed the white water rafting. We lived there 5 years and then moved to Green Valley, AZ where he became involved with the arts. He was President of the Arts Council and was asked by the City of Tucson Manager to Chair a program to build a Performing Art Center in Green Valley. This he accomplished along with Pima College. Gene sang tenor in a 100 member chorus, tenor in a Madrigal group and a musical group called 3 plus one: the one was the piano player. He played tennis and chased the golf ball. Life was good. We did a lot of traveling and Gene always had plans mapped out as to what we would see and do. He was happy with all he had accomplished with his life. He married: Mary Amon and they had two children Leslie and Jeff Heckathorn. Two grandsons Jake and Drew Heckathorn. He married Ann Fry: stepchildren Kathleen and Buddy. Married Jessie (Jackie) Hall-Hillis. They had 32 years together. Stepchildren: Dan Holinsworth and Valerie Priola. Seven Step-grand children and seven great grand-children. Sister: Ruth Hartman of Tucson, AZ. Sister: Leona Rae deceased. Stepbrother: Ernie Woods deceased. Cause of Death: Alzheimers It was his wish no service. Celebration of his life will be at a later date.
Published in Paradise Post on Dec. 30, 2015
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