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November 30, 1930 – Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Service Information
Zion Lutheran Church, Buffalo, MN
Monday, September 19, 2016
11:00 AM

Visitation Information
The Peterson Chapel of Buffalo
Sunday, September 18, 2016
3:00 – 7:00 PM

George F. Heller, III, longtime resident of Buffalo, Minnesota, passed from this life on Tuesday, September 13th, 2016, surrounded by his family. George was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota on November 30, 1930 to George F. Heller, II and Margaret (Nagel) Heller. He had two older sisters, Dorothy and Eileen. He graduated from Harding High School in June of 1947 and then drove truck for a meat packing company for one year in order to save up enough money to begin his college education. He studied instrumental music at the College of St. Thomas under the guidance of Professor Francis Mayer. His principal instrument was the clarinet, but he played all instruments and earned additional funds for college by playing in local jazz bands, ice shows and musical theater productions.

He married Eunice E. Follingstad on January 28, 1956 and together they raised three daughters: Karen, Gretchen and Morgan. George was a loving and devoted father and his family meant everything to him.

George taught instrumental music at Taylors Falls and Lyle, Minnesota before he and Eunice moved to Buffalo in the fall of 1960. He taught instrumental music to the elementary and junior/senior high school students in Buffalo, Montrose and Hanover until a new high school was built in Buffalo in the early 1970’s. He then chose to continue teaching the elementary and junior high students until his retirement in 1987. He fondly remembered his former students over the years, always referring to them as “my kids”. He was very proud of them all and sought to give them an appreciation for music that would last an entire lifetime.

George was an avid motorcycling enthusiast and traveled all across the United States, Canada and Europe. He was a gifted woodworker and clock maker and studied World War II aviation history in his spare time. He was a 50+ year member of the Masonic Lodge and Eastern Star having served as Master of the Lodge and as Worthy Patron.

George is survived by his devoted daughters, Karen (Scott Jondro) Heller of Minneapolis, MN, Gretchen (Richard) Katzenberger of Buffalo, MN and Morgan Heller of Buffalo, MN; grandsons, Benjamin Monroe and Jesse Lawrence; many loving nieces and nephews; sister-in-law, Loretta Follingstad; and special friend, Lorraine Venaas. He is also survived by his Family of the Heart: Joachim and Elke Ahlers of Westhofen, Germany, and Deb Lefebvre of Buffalo, MN; Grandchildren of his Heart: Hannes and Emma Ahlers, and Sophie, Sam, Henry and Lucy Lefebvre. He was preceded in death by his parents; wife; sisters and their spouses; nieces, Irene Scott and Ruth Foucault; and great-nephew, Danny Thesenvitz. He was also preceded in death by his beloved friends: Raymond O. Howe, Sheldon Fertig, Sr. and Eric Lefebvre.

Visitation will take place Sunday, September 18th, 2016 from 3 o’clock to 7 o’clock p.m. at The Peterson Chapel, Buffalo, Minnesota.

A celebration of his life will be held on Monday, September 19th, 2016 at 11 o’clock a.m. at Zion Lutheran Church, Buffalo, Minnesota. Pastor Luke Schmidt will officiate. Further visitation will take place one hour before the service at church. A private family service will be held at Lakeview Cemetery following the service.

Honorary Casket Bearers will be Scott Jondro and Paul Thesenvitz.

Casket Bearers will be Gretchen Katzenberger, Richard Katzenberger, Karen Heller, Michael Luth, William Luth and Patricia Bailey.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.

Serving the family is The Peterson Chapel of Buffalo. 763-682-1363. www.thepetersonchapel.com.

5 Guestbook Entries

  1. Brian Long

    To the family of WB Heller I extend my deepest condolences for your loss. I only met with him a few times and was always with a smile for a fellow Masonic brother.
    Kindest regards
    Brian Long PM

    Reply
  2. Debra Fant

    For Karen, Gretchen, Morgan and all of George’s beloveds….my condolences for your loss of dad, grandpa, and all the many roles he played for each of you. He was my band teacher in late 60’s-early 70’s and opened my appreciation for a genre of music I knew nothing about – jazz! He gifted me the chance to learn to play oboe (and tenor drums when we marched!) and was a very caring presence for us, “his kids.” I’m glad to know he felt that about us even when we were a pain in the butt to him! I spoke with him recently after attending my class reunion and we laughed together over things like the group learning to whistle with fingers inside the lips (and he told me his first success with that kind of whistling was during CHURCH!!) and how he’d play pop music and teach us about the musicality and artistry of it. Blood, Sweat and Tears album is still dear to my heart after he turned us on to it and I’ve played it over the last day thinking about Mr. Heller, all I appreciate about him, and how many lives he touched in his life and career. Blessings to him on his spirit journey, and my gratitude forever. Debra Fant, Waldport OR

    Reply
  3.  Larry Reinartz

    George Heller was a man that made lasting impressions on me throughout my life. I met him in the late 1950’s. In his first year as band director at Lyle, Minnesota, he recruited me to play sousaphone. I previously had some lessons on trombone and baritone but never put any effort into learning to play the instruments. He told me to be at band practice that day. To my surprise, George had taken the time to write valve numbers above each note on the sheet music. He put a lot of time and effort into helping me become the second tuba player in the full band. In my remaining years of high school, Mr. Heller had me involved in pep band, dance band, concert band and marching band. I was never an exceptional musician, but I was involved and learned to appreciate music. Myself and many of my classmates formed a strong bond with Mr. Heller. He enjoyed pheasant hunting and was always invited to join us at a friend’s farm. George was often invited to my classes reunions. The most recent one he came to was our fiftieth reunion, five years ago. My vocation was in elementary education. Whenever I have been asked what motivated me to be a teacher, I always reflect on my high school years, and the man who motivated me. George was a great mentor. I am proud to have known him, and considered him my friend as well as teacher. Larry Reinartz Rochester, MN. Class of 1961 Lyle High School

    Reply
  4. Dale T. Thesenvitz

    I can never picture Uncle George as “old” but remember him as I last saw him in 1995 and 2005. I had many happy days with Uncle George and family. I will miss you forever.

    Reply
  5. Robin Lefebvre

    We share your sorrow and feel your loss. Grandpa George was very special to us as well as to Eric’s family. Sincerely, Elaine and Robin Lefebvre

    Reply

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