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Donald Leon Heck

Donald Leon Heck came into this world on January 19, 1932. Born in the Mitchell hospital to Leo and Ann Heck, he grew up in Kimball, South Dakota.

As a child Don honed his early skills of fixing and making things. He was one of those children who took things apart and put them back together just to see what made them work. Oh, and he liked animals, early on he raised chickens. These early enjoyments followed him into later life. Don had a life-long love for sports. In high school he excelled on the football and basketball teams. Being a good player afforded him opportunity to play on the varsity teams as an underclassman. 

In grade school he met Freddie Brooks. While in high school they became good friends and sweethearts. After high school they were engaged and were married on August 30, 1953.

Don achieved exceptional grades throughout his schooling. He and his older brother Bob would often vie to see who could get the better grades. While Don’s aptitude was for engineering, his father insisted that he follow in his footsteps and attend USD for a law degree. A stint in the Army interrupted his studies. As a Lieutenant he was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia as well as Fort Carson, Colorado. During his enlistment he used his mechanical skills to help train soldiers. Once back in school, Don obtained his law degree in 1958.

Answering a call from citizens in Kadoka, South Dakota, Don moved his family there in 1958 and began work as state’s attorney. After 16 years in that position, Don decided to run for circuit court judge. He won the election and for the next 16 years he sat on the bench judging cases in the surrounding communities.

While Don dealt with decisions in his law office and on the bench as a judge, the most important decision he ever made was committing his life to Jesus Christ. That decision forever impacted his marriage, his family, his profession, his priorities and his passions.  

In his free time from his law practice Don continued his passion for building. Several of his many accomplishments included putting in considerable sweat equity into the family home, a law office and a ranch house patterned after homes he saw while vacationing in Germany. Though he had a certain fear of water, he planned and constructed a swimming pool in the back yard of the Heck home. He also built a family cabin in the Black Hills, securing a small parcel of land in 1971. It was a family project, with Don as chief architect and engineer. He and Freddie worked on it every time they visited the Black Hills. The cabin was a wonderful getaway for so many family friends and was used a ministry for the gospel to everyone who visited.  

From the beginning, the Heck home was filled with music. Don played slide trombone in high school. But with his carpentry skills he made beautiful stereo cabinets, plus a special cabinet for sheet music. He sang solos in church as well as being a regular member of the choir. Later he became the choir director. He even took his family on vacation to Bemidji, Minnesota, where he attended a summer conductors’ conference. He further used his music skills in forming a community youth choir called The Joyful Noise. The choir sang in neighboring communities, traveling in an old yellow school bus that Don reconditioned.

In his retirement Don stayed very busy. He and Freddie traveled far and wide visiting and blessing grandchildren every chance they had.  Don also served on the boards of Crisis Pregnancy Center in Rapid City and Victory Bible Center Camp near Ft. Pierre, SD. He also worked steadily on his special projects, including ongoing work on the cabin, and upkeep of the ranch with a small herd of cattle, quarter horses, and at times chickens and pheasants. He also loved to fish at the larger ranch dam.

  Don was preceded in death by his wife, Freddie, older brother, Robert Heck and his younger sister, Leanne Rolfe. He is survived by son, Douglas and his wife Debbie, daughter Lyndee Orr and her husband Brent, daughter, Sue Thune and husband Tim. He is survived by his beloved grandchildren, grandson Chris Heck, wife Katie, great-grandson Caleb, granddaughter Noelle Beug, husband Joe, great-grandchildren, Arianna and husband Kevin, Trinity, Justice, Gavin, Elora, grandson, Gabriel Orr and wife Katie, great-grandchildren, Hallie and Millie, grandson, Luke Orr and wife Nichelle, great-grandchildren, Asher and Jax, grandson, Joel Orr and wife Alyssa, grandson, Aaron Orr and wife Mariah, and great-grandchildren, Hezekiah, Lily and Manna, grandson, Nick Thune and wife Isabel, great-grandchildren, Alma and Naomi, grandson, Logan Thune and wife Zoie and great-grandchildren, Shepherd, Lucy, Charles and Claire, and grandson, Jett Thune.

Don’s three kids, his nine grandkids and nineteen great-grandkids are grateful for the way he loved them, provided for them and for his commitment to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

A graveside service will be held at 2:00 pm, Mountain time, May 25, 2024 in Kadoka, SD.  

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