MARQUETTE, MI. - The Lord called Ralph to his Heavenly Home on Thursday, December 26, 2013, after a 37 year battle with Parkinson's disease. He had been residing at the Norlite Nursing Center for the past 17 years.
Ralph was born to Ralph Sr. and Dorothy (Graves) in Houghton on April 18, 1937. The family later moved to Marquette, where Ralph graduated high school in 1955.
He married Catherine Mayworm in 1957 and raised three children. Shortly after their marriage, Ralph became employed with Red Owl, where he worked until 1972.
Ralph L. Heideman
Ralph was an avid sports enthusiast and excelled in bowling, playing on league teams for a number of years. He also loved his Packers and enjoyed going to the games in Green Bay.
At 36 years old, Ralph's strong desire to become an elementary school teacher led him to enroll full time at NMU while working the full-time night-shift at Marquette Senior High School in their maintenance dept. He loved the interaction between both staff and students alike. However, his dream was cut short in his final semester when the tremors in his hand had progressed to the point where he was unable to complete his student teaching. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
Ralph continued his employment with the schools until he was 50 years old and physically unable to work. He was a very optimistic and courageous man, who underwent experimental brain surgery at the Mayo Clinic, which proved to be unsuccessful. Eleven years later, a skilled brain surgeon performed a palidotomy at Marquette General Hospital and Ralph was finally given relief from much of his discomfort.
He was a member of Calvary Lutheran Church since 1957 and superintendent of the Sunday school.
He was preceded in death by his parents and two brother's-in-law, Joe Jarvey and Ken Buhrmann.
He is survived by Cathy, his wife of 57 years; children, Beth (Ken) Kampe of Marquette, Sue Heideman of Green Bay, WI and Tim (Chris) Heideman of China, MI; two sisters, Florence Buhrmann of Marquette and Dorothy Jarvey of Kaukauna, WI; 3 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Cathy and Sue would like to thank their "extended family," the entire staff, both past & present at the Norlite Nursing Center. They made Ralph's 17 year stay safe, comfortable, enjoyable and a lot of times, down-right funny. God bless you all.
A memorial service will be held on Monday, December 30, 2013 at 11 a.m. in Calvary Lutheran Church with Rev. Joel Fleischer officiating. Visitation will be held for one hour prior to the service in the church. Spring interment will take place in Park Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
The Canale-Tonella Funeral Home is assisting the family where memories may be shared at canalefuneral.com.