Paul R. Heitzman

Paul Raymond Heitzman was called to his heavenly home on Sunday, September 18, 2022. He passed away in the house he built himself, on his farm near Eudora, Kansas, surrounded by his loved ones. Paul was born on February 25, 1931. He was 91 years old.

Paul graduated from Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1949. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Religion from Baylor University in 1953. He earned a Master of Arts degree in History from the University of Kansas in 1967. His thesis was titled “The Reaction of the Kansas Press to the Career of Edmund G. Ross, 1856-1907.”

A veteran of the U.S. Army, Paul served as a signal message clerk with the 40th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Brigade in Yokohama, Japan from August 1954 thru May 1956. After his military service, he briefly worked as a stockbroker with the A.C. Allen Company in Chicago, Illinois, before finding a long, fulfilling career in secondary education. He taught history at Topeka High School, Shawnee Mission West High School, and Shawnee Mission Northwest High School.

Paul married Marilyn Kay Heitzman (née Stidham) on April 12, 1963. They had three children together and seven grandchildren, and they shared 59 years of love and commitment.

Paul maintained a strong work ethic all his life. After spending time at his grandparents’ farm throughout his childhood, he fell in love with farm life and worked hard to purchase land and build up a farm of his own. He carried out his farm chores every day with joy, he never really “retired” from being a farmer, and never really enjoyed being away from home for any length of time.

Friends and family will remember Paul as a remarkable, intelligent, and loving man. He was a lifelong Christian, attended Hesper Friends Church near Eudora, Kansas, and worked to serve the Lord in all he did. He loved reading, fishing, and doing crossword puzzles. As an avid sports fan, he always closely followed and cheered on his favorite teams: the St. Louis Cardinals and the KU Jayhawks. Another interest was in playing contract bridge, and he achieved the ranking of Life Master in the American Contract Bridge League. He was also a competitive long-distance runner who was recognized as the track athlete of the year in 2002 by the USA Track and Field governing body at the age of 71, and was inducted into the USATF Masters Hall of Fame in 2017.  He held state and national records for his age group and continued running competitively into his early eighties.

Paul was preceded in death by his parents, Raymond Walter Heitzman and Pearl Ina Heitzman (née Dalton); his sisters, Allene Ray Heitzman and Madeline Heitzman Troyer; and his daughter, Patricia Ann Heitzman. He is survived by his wife, Marilyn, of the home; his son, Richard Dalton Heitzman, of Holton, Kansas, his wife, Aimie, and children, Jeffrey, Abigail, Gladys, and Olivia; and his daughter, Sally Jo Johnson (née Heitzman) of Eudora, Kansas, her husband, David, and children, Tyler, Haley, and Riley.

A memorial service and celebration of life for Paul will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, September 24, 2022 at Hesper Friends Church, and he will be laid to rest at the Eudora Cemetery.

Donations in lieu of flowers and other gifts may be made to the Patricia Heitzman Memorial Scholarship Fund at Eudora High School and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.

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19 Condolences

  1. Norma Morris on September 20, 2022 at 9:57 pm

    Though I am not able to come to the Celebration of Life on Saturday, the whole family will be on my mind and in my heart as our beloved Paul is remembered and celebrated for the amazing person he was on Earth and the impact he had on others (certainly on me) in his lifetime. He was a Kingdom son, who served his Lord and Savior all his life, who touched the lives of countless students & athletes and who, with Marilyn, raised a beautiful and remarkable family – always the apple of his eye. Quite a legacy I’d say. I am so glad I got to see him in June at my brother, Bill’s, Celebration of Life! My cousin,Paul, will be missed sorely by all who loved him, but the thought of him now seeing Jesus face-to-face (as well as his family who went before) just makes me smile.

  2. Deanna Roudybush on September 21, 2022 at 10:30 am

    When I met my husband, Duane Roudybush, I met Paul Heitzman, who at that time was living in Topeka. I remember Paul when he was Youth For Christ Director here in Topeka, KS in the late1950’s. Duane and Paul both were avid sports fans….especially KU and the St. Louis Cardinals. Early in the 1960’s Paul and Duane broadcasted Basket ball games through a small Leavenworth station.
    I knew Paul’s parents when we attended the same church in Kansas City, KS during my time in Nurses Training in Kansas City.
    Paul was a wonderful example of a Christian man who loved the Lord Jesus. Duane and I were thrilled when he met Marilyn and they were married. Through the years we kept in contact though busy with our own lives.
    I am sad to say I will not be able to attend the Celebration of Paul’s life, Saturday, September 25th. I am keeping Marilyn and family in my prayers.

  3. Pat Thomas on September 21, 2022 at 2:01 pm

    Wonderful memories I recall from Merriam Bible & Woodson Ave Bible days with Richard & you Marilyn I will be praying for you and family. He and Leroy can get reacquainted in Heaven now🙏

  4. Robin Starling on September 21, 2022 at 7:51 pm

    Dear Heitzman family,
    I am so sorry for your loss. There is really nothing words can say to ease your pain.
    Mr. Heitzman was always so friendly in every encounter I had with him.
    Please find peace knowing he is safe in God’s hands now, and one day we will all be together again.

    Robin (Sieber) Starling

  5. Ronald W. Poplau on September 21, 2022 at 8:28 pm

    I taught with Paul at S.M. Northwest. He was a great teacher of American History. He was always dedicated to excellence. I remember his love of farming. His love of God and neighbor characterized his daily life. He was an excellent example for my personal life and career. His students loved him and spoke very highly of him. I have no negative comments about Paul. When the roll is called up yonder, Paul will be there!

  6. Shelly (Gravino) King Zeckser on September 22, 2022 at 7:31 am

    To the Heitzman family sorry for your loss. Paul was my high school History teacher at Shawnee Mission West in 1970. He was one of the teachers who inspired my 45 year career in the profession . Mr Heitzman touched countless of students lives and left positive marks and happy memories with those he met. I was fortunate to reconnect in his later years as my sister and brother-in-law are neighbors. Even then he was still the smiling and happy “Mr. Heitzman “ we all knew.

  7. Vickie Hull on September 22, 2022 at 2:44 pm

    I had the honor to interview Paul and write about his amazing athletic accomplishments for The Eudora News. He was kind and humble as well as a talented runner. Whenever my husband, Bert, and I would cross paths with Paul, he remembered us and stopped to talk. Paul Heitzman left his mark in this world and will not be forgotten! And isn’t that all any of us aspire to do?

  8. Eric Ryan on September 22, 2022 at 3:59 pm

    I am so sorry to hear of Paul’s passing. My father, John Ryan, taught with him, and he was one of my dad’s favorite fellow teachers. Having visited the farm a few times, I have fond memories of Paul and the entire Heitzman family.

  9. Patty Johnston on September 23, 2022 at 7:53 am

    We are sorry for your loss. Hugs and prayers for entire family.

  10. Cheryl Lemon (Clark - 1974) on September 23, 2022 at 9:44 am

    I remember Mr Heitzman as a quiet teacher at SMNW High School. He loved History and was excited to teach us interesting facts about what went on in history. I will never forget we were talking about history of the car industry. Mr Heitzman asked a student who rarely participated in class about a book written regarding the car industry. The student lifted his head and said “Unsafe at any speed” by Ralph Nader. Mr. Heitzman became so excited with this person’s. answer. We all experienced how much he loved history and the joy he felt when anyone could answer a question. Rest In Peace Mr. Heitzman. You helped me to enjoy history.

  11. Kathleen Brown on September 23, 2022 at 4:53 pm

    Thinking of all the Heitzman/Johnson families. So sad for all of you. What a guy!! Hugs!

  12. Craig Jacob on September 24, 2022 at 12:13 pm

    Thinking of the Heitzman family on your loss. Still think of Patty as one of my favorite student and her great parents. Prayers with all of your family.

  13. Tom and Dee Jerome on September 25, 2022 at 2:48 am

    Sympathy and prayers in your loss.

  14. Dick Lipsey on September 25, 2022 at 3:53 pm

    I’m very sorry for the Heitzman family’s loss. I met Paul at the 1992 Levee Run in Lawrence and was astonished to learn that Paul — 15 years older — had finished three minutes ahead of me. I met him at many other races over the years and wrote two articles about him and his friendly competitor Dick Wilson for the Associated Press. Non-runners may not appreciate how talented and competitive he was, but I can best compare him to Wes Santee. I think that if Paul had taken up running as a young man, he would have been a national-caliber runner.
    Dick Lipsey, Lawrence

  15. Shelley Ninemire Shatzer on September 25, 2022 at 9:52 pm

    Mr Heitzman was my history teacher at SMNW- was always intrigued with history- especially learning about the Holocaust. Proud to say- got to visit Auschwitz a few years ago.
    He loved teaching. Sorry for your tremendous loss.

  16. Karen Smith Gibbs on September 26, 2022 at 4:48 pm

    Mr. Heitzman was an outstanding teacher. He was my history teacher at SMNW and was one of the reasons I desired to become a history and government teacher. He was interesting, kind and caring to everyone in his classes. I am so sorry for your loss.

  17. Robert Seaver on September 27, 2022 at 6:11 pm

    Paul Heitzman was a remarkable man in so many respects. Multi-talented, his quiet demeanor masked a fierce competitive streak that showed up especially at the bridge table or while running competitively at the highest level in his later years. Paul was my mother’s longtime bridge partner. They were a formidable team in the state of Kansas for many years. I was fortunate enough to have the honor of playing bridge quite often with Paul. We shared a lifelong interest in baseball. Paul was a passionate St. Louis Cardinals fan. But, most of all, Paul was a profoundly good human being, a model to be emulated. He will be missed by his many friends.

    Marilyn, please accept our condolences. Our thoughts are with you and your family at this difficult time.

  18. Robert and Barbara Seaver on September 29, 2022 at 5:17 pm

    To Marilyn and the entire Heitzman family Barbara and I send our deepest condolences. Paul was an amazing person, multi-talented and modest. He was one of the fiercest competitors I have ever known while being a consummate sportsman. Aside from his fame in later life as a runner, he was a formidable bridge player for decades. The entire duplicate bridge community of Kansas has lost one of its finest players. But, most of all, Paul was an exemplary human being. He will be missed.

    Robert and Barbara Seaver

  19. Stan Watchous on December 13, 2022 at 3:39 pm

    Please accept the deepest condolences of the Bob and Joy Watchous family in regard to the recent passing of Paul.
    I knew Paul as a pre-teen; my father taught Government at Shawnee Mission West alongside Paul and they were both “hobby” farmers whose land was separated by no more than about 6 miles of gravel road between Eudora and DeSoto. And they both liked to play bridge.
    To me, Paul was always the most steady, gentle, consistent, hard-working and intelligent Christian, farmer and friend. You could tell that he loved his land and the crops and livestock he nurtured on it. And he loved his family: His parents lived in the original farmhouse with accompanying barns and outbuildings and Paul built what I thought was the biggest, most beautiful and modern house I had ever seen, just down the road.
    I remember calling Paul when I was considering doing some stock broker work after college, to get his advice. And in true, compassionate teacher fashion, he tried not to unduly influence my decision but at the same time let me know that it was, as he put it, “a tough row to hoe”.
    To me, Paul Heitzman was a perfect example of the kind of “salt-of-the earth”
    people who have made this country the greatest nation in world history.

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