Our Dad, John William Heckler, 79, of Houston, Texas passed away on Monday, December 3, 2013. Dad was born to William and Elizabeth Heckler on November 30, 1934 in New York, New York. After graduating from St. Vincent De Paul High School, Dad joined Brothers of the Sacred Heart at St. Stanislaus College in Bay St. Louis, MS to commence novice training. Upon the death of his father he left the Brotherhood to take care of his family. Along with being a wonderful husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather and friend; Dad was first a wonderful Christian Catholic. He raised us to know and love Christ. Dad always told us girls, ‘girls the best gift I can give you is to love your Mother forever’. Thank you Daddy for showing us what that meant because of this you provided us with a love of Christ, unconditional love from our parents, stability, a safe and loving home. Always coming back home to be with you and Mama.
Self taught to wood carve at the age of 6, an inherited skill from his German grandfather, and perfecting his skill as artisan and master wood carver from then on. Dad earned his Eagle Scout award in 1951 and was a proud member of the Knights of Columbus of 50 plus years.
His career began in 1961 when he transferred from NASA at Langley, VA to the New Space Task Group in Houston and was in the last contingent of the 288 personnel who started the Manned Space Center for development of the first lunar landing, space shuttle program and ongoing aeronautical development. On his sixteenth anniversary with NASA he entered mid level management as a Supervisor, working his way up to Branch Chief and Technical Operations Officer. After a 31 year career, he retired in 1991. Along with his hobby of woodcarving, which can be found in several local Houston Catholic churches – including St. Luke the Evangelist – and as far as New York , he specialized in the crucifixion of our Lord, mastering the intricate details of sorrow and love our Lord has for us.
Two years after moving to Texas, he met and married his wife of 49 years – 30 days shy of their 50th wedding anniversary – Carmen. John is preceded in death by his father, mother, sister, brother and his two sons. He is survived by his wife, Carmen; daughter Ana and son-in-law Mike Thompson; daughter Stephanie, son-in-law Rob and grand-daughter Olivia Morgen Heckler Dickens; daughter Ellen Heckler Hutto and grand-son Cole Heckler Hutto.
He was at his happiest when he was deep into his hobby of woodcarving, a frequent round of golf, Knights of Columbus, Boy Scouts , celebrating his German heritage and of course sharing his love for his family.
When Dad was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in August of this year, he said “sweetheart, let’s see what cross the Lord has for me to carry”, never complaining and accepting of this illness, he once again was reminding us who our Savior is.
Visitation for family and friends will be Thursday, December 5, 2013, from 6:00pm until 8:30pm at Niday Funeral Home – Beamer Chapel. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated Friday, December 6, 2013, at 11:00am at St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Brothers of the Sacred Heart Foundation, 4600 Elysian Fields Ave. New Orleans, LA 70122.