Services for Gary Heitmann, 83, of Groton will be 10:30 a.m., Thursday, January 7th at the United Methodist Church. Pastor Brandon Dunham will officiate. Inurnment will follow at a later date in the Black Hills National Cemetery, Sturgis. Services will be live streamed through GDILIVE.COM
Visitation will be held at the church on Wednesday from 5-7 p.m. with a prayer service at 7:00 p.m.
Gary passed away January 1, 2021 at his home.
Gary Royce was born on October 21, 1937 in Britton to Harry and Mary Alice (Witham) Heitmann. The oldest of 4 children, he attended rural school near Lake City and graduated from Britton High School. Shortly after high school graduation, he went to U.S. Air Force Basic Training at Lackland AFB, TX and continued his service with 119th Fighter Wing in Fargo, ND as a reservist from 1956 – 1967 and received an honorable discharge. During this time period, Gary continued his education at SDSU where he majored in agronomy. The day following his college graduation, he eloped with the love of his life, Caralee Hagen. They were married on June 4, 1963 in Fergus Falls, MN. The couple made their first home in Ft. Yates, ND where Gary started his career with the Bureau of Indian Affairs as a soil scientist mapping soils on several reservations. Over the years, his career evolved and he was named Director of Natural Resources. His job led them over the Midwest, living in Nebraska, both North and South Dakota, Montana, and Utah. Gary spent 31 years with the BIA before his retirement in 1994. Never being one to sit idle and wanting to remain connected to agriculture, he continued working at Schuring Farms in Andover for the next 15 years. Being the senior employees at the farm, he and Bob Schuring completed many tasks that nobody else wanted to do – but they thoroughly enjoyed their time working together. Gary was an avid fan of the Minnesota Twins and the Minnesota Vikings so it goes without saying that he never gave up hope. He and his family made numerous trips to watch games in various locations across the country. Throughout his entire life, people, especially his family, always remained the most important aspect of his life. Gary was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend.
Gary was a member of the United Methodist Church in Groton where he held multiple church offices over the years. He served as Groton City Councilman and was also a member of Kiwanis. He also was a driver for the Groton Transit as well as offering to drive people to Aberdeen for appointments. Gary was heavily involved for a number of years with organizing the Schliebe midget baseball tournament and tirelessly volunteered his time to the baseball program as an umpire, scorekeeper, or whatever was needed. Gary’s favorite activity revolved around his sons while they were growing up and more recently his grandchildren. He so enjoyed being a proud supporter of all of their many events and attended most of them – near and far. He spent many hours sitting in the bleachers as a proud father and grandfather. Other activities that Gary enjoyed with family and friends included golfing, hunting, gardening and coffee time - four different coffee groups everyday!
Celebrating his life is his wife, Caralee of Groton, three sons, Grady (Bobbi Jo) Heitmann of Faulkton, Greg Heitmann (Angela Sandoval) of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Garrett (Sindi) Heitmann of Snoqualmie, Washington, grandchildren: Kristen (Taylor) Dykema, Kaitlin (Colby) Bunkers, Derek Heitmann, Shayna Heitmann, Estevan Sandoval, Catalina Sandoval, Antonio Heitmann, Alejandra Heitmann and one great-granddaughter Oaklee Bunkers. Gary’s siblings: Gay Heitmann of Lake City, Linda Reierson of Minot, ND and David (Susan) Heitmann of Lake City.
Preceding him in death were his parents Harry and Mary Heitmann and his in-laws Ed and Betty Jean Hagen.
Honorary Urn Bearers will be members of his coffee group: Jim Ackman, Tyke Nyberg, Gordon Nelson, Dave Blackmun, Jerry Bjerke, Jay Johnson, Marc Johnson, Dave McGannon, Randy Stanley and John Wheeting.
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