Salem, OH-- Wallace Robert “Wally” Heck, 76, of New Springfield, Ohio, died Friday, September 14, 2018, under Hospice care at Essex house, Salem, following a long illness involving stroke, COPD and heart failure.
Mr. Heck was born March 17, 1942, in Youngstown, Ohio, a son of Wallace Hugh and Mildred Jean (Gordon) Heck. He grew up in New Middletown, Ohio, and was graduated from Springfield Local High School as an honor student in 1960. “Wally” was a four-year letterman in four varsity sports: football, basketball, baseball and track. Wally also excelled in music, playing tuba in the band and orchestra, and singing in choruses and ensembles both at school and for the New Middletown’s United Church of Christ.
He married his high school sweetheart, the former Patricia May, on June 23, 1960, in a garden wedding at the farm of her parents, Victor and Laduska May. They made their home on the farm for the next several years as they worked and pursued their educations. They eventually inherited the farm and kept horses and other livestock and grew Christmas trees there.
Mr. Heck attended Youngstown University part time before enlisting in the Navy in 1966. He was trained by the Navy as a Russian translator at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center at Monterey, California, after which he was stationed in Japan during the Vietnam War and was deployed to the Gulf of Tonkin on intelligence gathering assignments.
Upon returning from the Navy, Wally became a steelworker at Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co., joined the boilermakers‘ union and later worked as a crane operator at a steel mill in Aliquippa, Pa. Mr. Heck later worked as a bank custodian and security officer. He also served three years as a counselor and bus driver for the Vision Quest program for disturbed children based in Pa.
Wally enjoyed his memberships in the local VFW and in several Western Pennsylvania social clubs including Hillsville’s Johnson Club, Bessemer’s Croatian Club, and the Alibi hunting and fishing club near Marienville. He regularly participated in lumber jack, bowling, pool, card playing, and dart throwing competitions in Struthers, New Middletown, and New Springfield, and in Bessemer, Pa. His singing and harmonica playing entertained many during these social gatherings.
One of Wally’s great joys was working at the Canfield Fair, helping in the milking stations, participating on the sound systems team, and especially pitching in with his son’s food concessions. For many years, he was a one-man attraction as the fair’s “Singing Fudge Maker.” He also enjoyed working at the stock car races at the fairgrounds and did some racing himself at the Quaker City Drag Strip in Salem.
Wally was an adventurous and multi-talented person who enjoyed being with and helping others. He traveled frequently, volunteered regularly, and enjoyed sports, games, fishing, storytelling, singing and jamming with fellow musicians. He was a handyman who could fix almost anything with very little equipment. He never hesitated to drop his own tasks to assist someone else.
Wallace is survived by two sons, Wallace Jr. (Christina) of Youngstown and Wayne of New Springfield; three brothers, Richard (Sandra) of Enfield, N.H., Norman (Carol) of Cincinnati, and Ronald (Gretchen) of Marietta, Ga.; five grandchildren, Robert, Victoria , Monica, David and Kyla; a great grandson, Elijah; five nieces and nephews, six grand nieces and nephews; and many cousins. Wallace was preceded in death by his parents, wife, a son at birth, and a dear nephew.
Arrangements for cremation are being handled by Davidson-Becker Funeral Home in Struthers. There will be no calling hours per the request of the deceased. A memorial service will be announced and held early this fall.
Condolences may be expressed and online tributes may be left at the funeral home website (www.beckerobits.com). Considering Wally’s personality and adventurous spirit, the family would appreciate if those who knew him would leave reminiscences online or send them to a family member.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the American Diabetes Association (www.diabetes.org).