Life Story Funeral Homes®
The exclusive providers of the Life Story Experience


Life Story Funeral Homes®
The exclusive providers of the Life Story Experience

Edward J. Heinig

March 15, 2024
Kalamazoo, MI




Ed Heinig, age 93, passed away peacefully on March 15, 2024 at Friendship Village with his loving wife, Ruth, at his side. Born in Terre Haute, Indiana, Ed was the only child of Edward F. Heinig and Margaret (Fitzgerald) Heinig, combining strong German and Irish heritage. Although he was a man of many passions, teaching was a main love with two others being military history and airplanes. He was first bitten by the teaching bug in elementary school when his teachers encouraged him to discuss the latest events of WWII and share his knowledge of domestic and foreign military airplanes, complete with chalkboard illustrations. When he entered Indiana State Teachers College, returning veterans were his heroes who genially accepted him like a fraternity pledge. Later, he relived those happy days by volunteering for a decade at the renowned Kalamazoo Air Museum shows.

After undergraduate school and a masters degree in English from the University of Michigan, Ed entered the military, fully expecting to be sent to Korea. Instead, he was deployed to West Germany where troops were needed for the mutual defense agreement protecting against possible eastern Europe invasion. He served loyally in the personal department, where their motto was "We never retreat, but we do occasionally backspace." Returning to Terre Haute after his discharge, Ed worked for Sunray DX Oil and Campbell Soup for awhile to please his father, a skilled railroad engineer who warned him against entering the stark life of a lowly-paid teacher. But when Ed received a teaching offer from a new high school in suburban Indianapolis, it seemed fate was calling. He relished teaching English to doting students who made sure he won a newspaper area-wide favorite teacher award his first year. At least then his father reluctantly accepted Ed's career choice. In spite of being the youngest and newest to the job, Ed was quickly made department head with a staff of 38 teachers.

Three successful years later, when offered the chance to become an associate superintendent, he chose instead to return to Michigan for a PhD in Teacher Education. Hired by Western Michigan University in 1963, he became known for his sense of humor and dapper apparel. With gusto, he submerged himself in teaching numerous courses in various areas including history and philosophy of education, health/physical education, teaching of reading, and a general studies class in arts and ideas. He met a new hire from Pittsburgh, Ruth Beall, whom he married in 1965 and taught with for almost 30 years. In 1971, Ed received a WMU Alumni Teaching Award, again validating his career decision. In addition to teaching, Ed served leadership positions in many organizations including Phi Delta Kappa (educational fraternity), WMU Emeriti Council, Korean Veterans Association, Oakland Drive/Winchell Neighborhood Association among others.

After retirement, Ed enjoyed special trips to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Imperial War Museum in Duxford, England, D.C.'s Korean War Memorial and the Dublin Ireland seaport, where his maternal grandmother emigrated to America alone as a teenager.

Following his wishes, Ed's body has been donated to WMU's Homer Stryker School of Medicine for a final and unique teaching opportunity. A donor's memorial service will be held at a later date. Ed is survived by his wife, a sister-in-law Jacquelyn Beall, niece Angela (both of Lafayette, Indiana) nephew Kendall (Beth) Beall of Georgetown, Kentucky, and several close Heinig cousins in Virginia and Indiana.

To hear Ed relate some of his life experiences in his own inimitable way, go to A final passion Ed had was for old songs. Two from WWII: "The White Cliffs of Dover" and "I'll Be Seeing You" are as appropriate today as ever before.

Western Michigan University Homer Stryker School for Medicine, 8443669633