Lester Gene “Les” Heitland, 88, of Mason City, died Jan. 8, 2014 at Mercy Medical Center - North Iowa in Mason City.
A Mass of Christian Burial was held on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Epiphany Parish - St. Joseph Catholic Church, Mason City, with the Rev. Rodney Allers as Celebrant. Burial immediately followed in the Clear Lake Cemetery where military honors were provided by the Clear Lake V.F.W.
Memorials may be left in Les’ honor to the Clear Lake V.F.W.
Lester Gene Heitland was born on Jan. 4, 1926 in Clear Lake, the son of Ed and Carrie (Buss) Heitland. Les attended country schools, graduated from Clear Lake High School, and attended Mason City Junior College.
He enlisted in the Naval Air Corps in 1943 in Ottumwa, Iowa, and transferred to the Navy because pilots were not needed. During WWII he was a fire control personnel, directing outgoing gunfire on the USS Detroit and later on the USS New Kent. He served in the Pacific theater and Asian theater in 1945-46 and saw action in the Battle of Iwo Jima and Battle of Okinawa. His ship was docked next to the USS Missouri for the signing of the peace treaty with Japan. Les attained a rank of Fire Control 3rd Class and was honorably discharged in 1946.
Les married Alberta Hickey on June 20, 1949. They shared many hours of golfing and traveling together. Their favorite Minnesota fishing spots were Round Lake, Cut Foot Sioux Lake, and Winnibigosh Lake. Time spent at their cabin on Little Cut Foot Sioux Lake with family and friends was special.
He began his career with Northwestern Bell Telephone in 1947; retiring in 1984. He held numerous positions in the company beginning as a lineman. He transferred from Clear Lake to Northwood and then to Mason City during which time he worked in the warehouse, as a service man in central equipment, and as a business customer representative.
Les owned and operated Heitland Stump Removal from 1950-1990, grinding up stumps in Iowa and southern Minnesota. Les and Alberta delivered Winnebago Motor Homes for Morgan Drive Away delivering in California, Oregon, New England states, and Florida. He made 18 deliveries to Alaska. From 1988 until about 2005 he drove pilot cars for oversized loads.
He proudly participated in the Winnebago Honor Flight of 2008. Les was also a member of the Moose, Elks, The Telephone Pioneers, Clear Lake V.F.W., AMVETS, Knights of Columbus, and the Communication Workers of America Union.
Surviving Les are his children, Janis, and husband, William Garrard, Doris Perau, Bonnie, and husband, Gary Farman, Gregory, and Glen; nine grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren; brother, Roger “Bud” and wife, MaDonna Heitland; sisters-in-law, Billie and husband, Terril Weydert, and Renee and husband, Don Babbitt; brother-in-law, Ed Callanan; aunt, Dorothy Buss; and good friend, Denny Haaland.
Preceding him in death are his wife, Alberta in 2001; daughter, Constance in 1951; great-grandson, Thaddeus Garrard; parents, Ed and Carrie Heitland; in-laws, Leo and Agnes Hickey; sister, Ardis Callanan; infant brother, Virgil; and brothers-in-law, Maurice and Robert Hickey.
Hogan Bremer Moore Colonial Chapel, Mason City, was in charge of arrangements.