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Obituary - Joe Keith Heilhecker

Joe Keith Heilhecker, a loving husband, father, grandfather “Papa Joe,” brother, uncle and friend entered into a peaceful rest Monday, January 18, 2010, at 5:45 p.m.

Joe was born August 13, 1934, in Chillicothe, Texas, to John Philip and Susie Mae Heilhecker. He was an accomplished research engineer with numerous oil and gas patents, an avid supporter of his alumni Texas A&M University where he graduated with his mechanical engineering degree in 1961 (Masters in 1962), and a former U.S. Marine Captain fighter pilot serving his country from July 1, 1953 to May 2, 1967, first as a Navy Cadet. Joe had retired to Pagosa Springs to enjoy his love of golfing, snowmobiling and skiing in the mountains. He was known for his quick wit and storytelling.

Joe is survived by his wife, Kathryn Van Dement Heilhecker; his children: Katherine Nixon (A&M Class of ’90) and her husband, Ken, Brad Heilhecker, Wesley Heilhecker (A&M Class of ’82), Bonnie Stubblefield and her husband, Stephen, Michael Heilhecker and his wife, Ashley, and Kimberley Mulkey and her husband, Chuck. He also had close children by marriage: Karen Smith and her husband, Rick, Stephen Barron, Alan Barron (A&M Class of ’84) and his wife, Kamali, Linda Lafferty (A&M Class of ’84) and her husband, Chuck, Ric Williams and his wife, Loretta, Linda Espinoza and her husband, Mickey and Jackie Galanti and her husband, Joseph.

Joe leaves his sister: Roberta “Bobbie” Heilhecker Skidmore, and husband, Wally of El Paso, Texas; his nephews: James Skidmore and his wife, Kelley, John Skidmore and his wife, Veronica, Tom Skidmore and his wife, Beth, Ron Heilhecker and his wife, Edith.

Carrying on Joe’s legacy are his grandchildren: Caitlin and Kristen Stubblefield, Marissa, Ryann, and HalliMae Heilhecker, Kamela, Haylee, and Autumn Mulkey, Brittany (A&M Class of ’10) and Laura Ashley Smith, Ryann, Taylor, and Chase Barron, Amanda Kay, Jessica, and Christopher Lafferty, Courtney Love, Kelley and Kaylor Williams, Jessica Espinoza, Jennifer Staiano and Gabriella Gagliardi; as well as other loving relatives and friends.

Friends are invited to visit with the family from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 29, 2010, at Forest Park Westheimer, 12800 Westheimer Road. A celebration of Joe’s life will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010, in the chapel at Forest Park Westheimer. A graveside service and committal will follow immediately.

In lieu of the usual remembrances, memorial contributions in Joe’s honor may be made to the Texas A&M Foundation, either online at or by mail to Texas A&M Foundation, 401 George Bush Drive, College Station, TX 77840.