Heil's passing leaves a hole in the conservation community

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 5, 2014 - 6:42 PM

The outdoors were everything to the much loved Greg Heil.

Greg Heil of New Prague, an avid hunter and conservationist with a big laugh, died Dec. 24 of pancreatic cancer at age 61.

A duck decoy rested on Greg Heil’s coffin and pheasant and wild turkey feathers adorned the flower arrangements nearby — testament to Heil’s love of hunting and the outdoors.

Not as obvious to the 600 people who paid their respects at his wake were Heil’s tireless efforts over the years to give something back to the conservation community he so deeply loved.

Heil, 61, of New Prague, died Dec. 24 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. He was one of Minnesota’s faceless conservationists who toil quietly behind the scenes — usually with little or no recognition. Whether helping kids build wood duck houses, or teaching them firearms safety, or helping run the local Minnesota Waterfowl Association banquet to raise money for wildlife habitat, Heil tackled the tasks with gusto.

And humor.

“He was one of those selfless guys, always the first to help with any project, and always did more than his share,” said Chuck Kartak, 62, of North Branch, a longtime friend and hunting buddy.

Said John Wolf, 61, of New Prague, another longtime friend: ‘‘He was fun-loving and had a great sense of humor.” And a roaring laugh.

Heil taught firearms safety and hunter education for more than 30 years, and was board member of the Minnesota Waterfowl Association and longtime member of the Montgomery and New Prague sportsman’s clubs.

His family figures he helped youths build more than 600 wood duck houses during annual events.

“He enjoyed the kids and wanted to pass on his love of hunting to the next generation,” said his wife, Mary.

Dave Schad, deputy commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources, was a friend who made several hunting trips with Heil.

“He’s one of those guys who would give you the shirt off their back,” Schad said.

For Heil, wildlife conservation wasn’t just something to talk about.

“He lived it and breathed it,” Schad said. “There’s very few people who end up doing the heavy lifting, and Greg was one of those guys.”

He was treasurer for the annual Minnesota Waterfowl Association’s Scott-LeSueur Chapter banquet — the largest in the state.

“He was very dedicated, very hands-on, meticulous,” said Brad Nylin, MWA executive director. “He was a great guy. People are devastated.”

Said Kartak: “He had an incredible work ethic, infectious laugh, zest for life and his selfless humble service to others was a model. His passing leaves a hole that many volunteers will need to fill.”

Heil grew up in Montgomery.

“He started hunting and fishing as a kid with his dad and grandpa, and he continued to deer hunt with the same group for almost 50 years,” Mary Heil said. “He loved it all.”

  • related content

  • Greg Heil of New Prague, an avid hunter and conservationist with a big laugh, died Dec. 24 of pancreatic cancer at age 61.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago WSox 1 Bottom 4th Inning
NY Yankees 3
Tampa Bay 1 Top 6th Inning
Toronto 2
Detroit 1 Top 4th Inning
Minnesota 9
Seattle 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
Boston 3
Baltimore 1 Top 2nd Inning
Chicago Cubs 0
San Francisco - T. Lincecum 3:05 PM
Washington - J. Zimmermann
Houston - C. McHugh 6:05 PM
Cleveland - D. Salazar
St. Louis - S. Miller 6:05 PM
Philadelphia - D. Buchanan
Atlanta - E. Santana 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - M. Leake
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez 6:10 PM
Milwaukee - W. Peralta
San Diego - A. Cashner 7:10 PM
Arizona - V. Nuno
Miami - T. Koehler 7:10 PM
Colorado - J. Lyles
Detroit - J. Verlander 7:10 PM
Minnesota - T. May
Kansas City - J. Guthrie 7:25 PM
Texas - N. Tepesch
LA Angels - C. Wilson 8:05 PM
Oakland - J. Lester
NY Mets - J. deGrom 8:10 PM
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke
Tampa Bay 3:30 PM
Buffalo
Tennessee 6:00 PM
Atlanta
Dallas 6:00 PM
Miami
Washington 6:30 PM
Baltimore
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Indianapolis
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Houston 8:00 PM
Denver
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Arizona
Atlanta 8/28/14 5:00 PM
Jacksonville
Detroit 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Indianapolis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Kansas City 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
St. Louis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 8/28/14 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 8/28/14 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Denver 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Dallas
Minnesota 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tennessee
San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:00 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
UCF 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Penn State
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
Oklahoma State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Chicago 6:00 PM
Toronto FC
Montreal 6:00 PM
Red Bull New York
Chivas USA 6:30 PM
New England
Houston 6:30 PM
Columbus
D.C. 7:30 PM
Sporting Kansas City
Vancouver FC 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Montreal 16 FINAL
Winnipeg 24
Toronto 3:00 PM
Edmonton
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 2:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Indiana 4:00 PM
Washington
Minnesota 6:00 PM
San Antonio

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How do you feel about Kevin Love leaving the Wolves?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close