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Ken "Bear" Heiple


Ken "Bear" Heiple died Friday, Aug. 2, 2019, at the Cedar Valley Hospice Home in Waterloo, Iowa, following a lengthy battle with cardiac disease. He was 71 years old.
Ken was born at St. Francis Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa, on May 10, 1948. He was the third of four sons born to John James "Mike" Heiple and Mary Carmelita "Carm" Schuetz Heiple.
Ken said he had a great childhood. He lived in a neighborhood with many large Catholic families so there always were kids to play with. His mother bought season tickets to the pool and encouraged her four sons to be involved in sports so she could have peaceful summers.
Ken liked to say "I am the product of 13 years of Catholic education." He attended St. Mary's School until eighth grade and graduated from Columbus High School in 1966. Ken participated in wrestling, football and baseball while in school. He attended Ellsworth Junior College, NIACC Mason City, UNI and Mankato State University. He graduated from Mankato in 1971 with a B.A. in English and history.
He had many jobs from childhood to his retirement in 2003. He worked at the Waterloo Courier, mowed lawns for the parks department in Waterloo, worked at Waterloo stadiums in concessions and was a bat boy for the Boston Red Sox farm team. He shagged balls at a golf course and was a janitor at Fourth Street Church in Waterloo. He worked for Ram-Jet painting in Waterloo painting houses, worked as a detasseler for Pioneer and coached St. Mary's track team. He worked at Rath's, worked as a longshoreman in California, lived in Miami for six months while on unemployment and ran a small neighborhood grocery store in Waterloo named Hipes. He bartended at Narey's 19th Hole and the Welcome Inn Tavern. He worked at the Mankato library. He lived in Omaha while working at Glenwood. His state of Iowa employment included Glenwood State Hospital, Eldora School for Boys and running a state group home for boys in Ames. He was the judicial court advocate for Blackhawk County for seven years and was hired at MHI as a social worker in 1985.
Ken and Joe Hoffman were the "Witte Boys" at MHI. They were infamous for their Christmas cards, answering machine messages and other antics to improve morale.
Ken and his family went to Minnesota to go fishing every summer and stayed at Nelson Lake. Bear had a lifelong love for fishing and for Minnesota. He frequently went on trips to Minnesota with friends and family. He portaged through the Boundary Waters for 20 summers with his friend Dave Dunakey. He went on a fly-in fishing trip to Canada.
He loved all types of music and attended many concerts throughout his lifetime. He loved to read, play softball and go golfing. He was an avid fan of the Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Vikings, Iowa Hawkeyes football and Notre Dame football. He was able to go see them play on numerous occasions.
He told everyone he met his wife at a mental hospital. He neglected to mention she worked there. He had many four-legged family members and beloved dogs. Daisy and Ernest T kept him company until his death.
Ken was preceded in death by his parents; his brother and sister-in-law, Joseph and Rita Heiple; two beloved nieces, Catie Heiple and Emily Quinn Webster; his longtime friends, Joe Hoffman and Harland Nelson; and his four-legged family members, Hrbek, Harmon, Angel, Buddy, Cooper, Kelly and Stella.
Ken is survived by his wife, Diane; his honorary brother and best friend, Jeff Grover; two brothers, James (Marie) Heiple of Hatboro, Pa., and Steve (Lisa) Heiple of Waterloo, Iowa; sister-in-law, Sue Heiple of Waterloo, Iowa; many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews; many, many friends and special close friends, J. Pat Narey, Curt Klatt, Mike Jensen, Dave Dunakey, John and Teresa Clark, Pat Reed and, of course, Jeff Grover.
Ken was a tall burly man with a unique beard who would play Santa Claus at Christmas parties. He often was called Santa Claus by young children at Christmas time. Ken frequently was called to help control aggressive clients at MHI. He had a kind heart, would often lend clients small amounts of money and he always was paid back. He would help shovel driveways and attended funerals for classmates and friends. He was a colorful unique character with high intellect and great sense of humor.
Ken was a positive person who never felt sorry for himself. He squeezed every moment out of life. He was able to travel to Ireland, Las Vegas, Acapulco and many other tropical destinations.
The Reiff Family Center Inc. in Independence is assisting the family with arrangements. There will be NO PUBLIC SERVICES. Ken will be CREMATED. PLEASE NO FOOD, FLOWERS OR VISITORS TO THE HOUSE. Memorial cards may be mailed to P.O. Box 406, Independence, IA 50644. A Ken "Bear" Heiple memorial fund has been set up at any Veridian Credit Union.

To leave an online condolence please go to www.reifffamilycenter.com under obituaries.
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