Roman Leon Heinzman
June 13, 1927 — March 14, 2018
Roman Leon Heinzman was born on a farm outside Mankato, Minn., on June 13, 1927. The doctor came to his home and he was delivered for the tidy sum of $10, which he always thought was a pretty good deal. In addition to his parents, Rome and Ida, he joined two sisters, Lorraine and June and was affectionately called “Brother” thereafter.
As a boy Rome juggled farm chores with schooling and before attending classes each day at Loyola Catholic High School he had a route delivering milk. Growing up provided warm memories of good times shared with the many cousins who lived close by, some of whom remained his lifelong friends. Although he decided early on that farming was not to be his chosen career, he learned how to work hard and be accountable, attributes he practiced for life.
While in his teens and during World War II, Rome was having the usual growing up pains and he and his parents often “didn’t see eye to eye” as the saying goes. When he was 17 and a senior in high school, and after a particularly disagreeable day with his mother, he went to a recruiter and enlisted in the Navy. Since he was under the age of 18 he needed the signature of a parent never imagining that his dad would sign so quickly. Soon he found himself in Bethesda, Md., in boot camp and shortly thereafter on a vessel in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
As he was still in high school the nuns sent him his school work and he received his diploma while on board the USS Oregon City. Rome proudly served his country. He would also later marvel at how much his parents had learned while he was gone.
When the war was over he returned to Mankato. While still trying to “find himself” he met Rose Gleis at Olson’s Dine and Dance where he said he was smitten with “the girl with the red dress on” and he asked her to dance. They married in 1949 at St. Rose Catholic Church and resided thereafter in Longview raising their three children, Nancy, Tom and Becky.
Rome enjoyed a long and adventurous life. He and Rose started Cascade News Company in the 50s along with partners Howard and Pat O’Connell. The two couples had an admirable work ethic which made their undertaking prosperous. They retired from the business after 35 years and then Rose and Rome became serious about traveling. A motorhome was purchased (actually many different motorhomes were purchased) and much of the United States was explored along with Canada and Alaska. They acquired a property in the Palm Springs area at a “fire sale” as Rome described it (he always loved a good deal) and much time was spent there enjoying family and friends. While members of their motorhome club they met Dennis and Sue Hamilton and shared a lasting friendship through thousands of miles of yard sales and finding 10 cent used towels.
But a deep love of Montana kept him going to the Ed Grady Ranch, outside of Helena, first to hunt, and later to brand and calve. He was proud that son Tom could accompany him on many of those trips. He kept this tradition going for over 30 years, spring and fall, before retiring himself from the rigors of being a “ranch hand”. He had spoken to Rose about perhaps moving to Montana but as he recalls it, Rose was concerned about her shopping limitations as there was not a Fred Meyer or Macy’s in the small town nearby.
Rome was proud, protective and fiercely dedicated to family. His daughter Nancy remembers many hands of playing cribbage and his patience in teaching her to drive in which she thanked him by wiping out the garage door. He taught son Tom how to make mini bikes, go-carts and the art of buying bargain tools. Rome would take daughter Becky hunting although he was careful to never shoot a deer while she was with him. “Not every day is a good day” summed up and ended any uncomfortable conversations and the not so secret sweep of the hand meant he was now ready to leave. Many in the family use that “sweep” today. He usually had a story or two he would tell, and it is remembered that he repeated some many times, somehow managing to stick closely to the original.
In 2010 it was learned that Rose had cancer and it was then that Rome became her devoted caregiver. About that time he also was beginning to feel the aches and pains of aging himself and when one thing or another would occur you could hear him rail, “This getting older isn’t for sissies!” Rose died in 2013 and it was soon after he decided he was ready for a senior retirement apartment, and he always proudly, but strongly, asserted that he was in “UN-assisted” living. Family was always close by to visit and help out and he made friends in this new community living. Never one to miss a good meal, he kept the menu close by and could tell you what was for evening dinner shortly after morning breakfast. Many Happy Hours were spent on the patio outside his Man Cave with daughter Becky and JD Honey counting log trucks on Third Avenue and discussing life as it was.
Rome was a 70-year member of St. Rose Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus. In later years he was a devoted member of the VFW morning coffee “Good Old Boys Club” where members solved most of the worlds ills in daily one-hour sessions.
Rome was 90 years old when he passed. He was preceded in death by his parents, his sisters, grandchild Kabe Roman, a great grandchild, most cousins and a host of friends. He is now reunited with Rose, his wife of 63 years. “We are married all these years and are still speaking to each other!” He would rejoice!
He is survived by his much-loved children, Nancy Jurvakainen (Bob), Tom Heinzman (Judy), and Becky Philpott (Kevin); his grandchildren, Jill Jurvakainen (Scott), Holly Kunnath (Steve), Joy Harris (Spencer), Heather Jurvakainen (Brian), Joshua Heinzman, and Casey Heinzman (Nicole); two stepgrandchildren, Tyler Pegg and Chad Pegg; and 11 great-grandchildren. Some of his last words were how proud he was of his family.
The family is grateful to Roberta Shaw who took excellent care of him during these past years and could always make him laugh. The family also thanks the staff of St. John Medical Center who served him during his final days, especially Tia, who was his advocate and with dignity, helped to ease his transition from this life to the next.
A funeral Mass is planned for 11 a.m. Monday at St. Rose Catholic Church with lunch served after the service in the Parish Hall. Cremation has taken place and private interment will be held at Longview Memorial Park.
Remembrances in his name can be made to St. Vincent de Paul or Community Home Health Hospice, both in Longview.
He will be sorely missed.