William A. “Bill” Heisel passed away on Monday, May 23, surrounded by his family, one week before his 96th birthday. He is preceded in death by his beloved wife Patricia (nee O’Donnell) and sisters Marjorie Poss, Rita Sloan Roy and Dorothy Heisel. He is survived by his children: Heidi Heisel, William Heisel (Kellee), Julie Sullivan (Hugh), James Heisel (Diane), Jane Heisel Badalich (Paul); and grandchildren William Crimmins, Michael Crimmins (Georgina), Ian Crimmins (Caroline), Scott Heisel, Haylee Heisel, Scott Heisel (Lisa Sullivan), Megan Sullivan, Hugh Sullivan Jr. (Sarah), Erica Brockberg (Matthew), Curtis Heisel (Taylor Erickson), Johanna Badalich, William Badalich, and great- grandson Beau Brockberg.
Bill was born in Toledo, Ohio to William A.and Antoinette (nee Rensch) Heisel, the youngest of four, with three older sisters. As a child he thought that people put flags out for his birthday, being a Memorial Day baby, and no one disavowed him of this belief, being the adored baby boy in the family.
He was educated at University of Detroit Jesuit High School and proudly became an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America. After high school graduation, in 1944, he joined the US Navy. He served during WWII in the North Atlantic and later in the Pacific in 1945. Upon his return home, he went to University of Detroit for undergraduate, then for postgrad to the University of Detroit School of Dentistry. He practiced dentistry for a few years, during which time he met a beautiful kindergarten teacher who became the love of his life, Patricia “Pat” O’Donnell. They married in Detroit in 1955 and started their family. Bill decided to pursue orthodontics and attended the University of Michigan, sparking a lifelong love of all things Wolverine! He had a very successful orthodontic practice in Wyandotte, MI and was loved by his patients, partners and employees. He was a founding board member of the Foundation for Orthodontic Research (FOR). While living in Detroit, Bill was a member of the Detroit Boat Club, where he rowed competitively. His lightweight eight won the 1952 National Championship with him rowing the stroke (first) position. He was later an official of the National Association of Amateur Oarsmen (NAAO) and helped organize the US Team for the 1968 Olympics.
Bill and Pat enjoyed skiing together as a young couple and were among the early skiers at Boyne Mountain in northern Michigan and skiing became a family sport. Their house on Walloon Lake, Mich. was where the family spent their winter weekends skiing and all summer playing on the lake. His garden at the Walloon house was a passion of his. He could often be seen riding around on his golf cart with a grandchild or two, tending to the garden or fighting the weeds. Bill became passionate about conservation of the lake and helped found the land preservation arm of the Walloon Lake Association and Conservancy. As president, he worked with the lake’s five townships to pass ordinances that restrict funnel development and that mission continues to this day. The pristine beauty of the lake and its surrounding woodlands and wetlands were dear to his heart.
He was a member and past president at the Walloon Lake Country Club where he spent many happy hours on the tennis court, golf course, and in the dining room with his many friends and family. As president of WLCC, he presided over the decision to expand the golf course to 18 holes, which succeeded by one vote.
After successfully launching their children into medical and legal careers, Bill and Pat began spending winters in Boca Grande, where they eventually designed and built a home. They enjoyed a very active social life there, hosting parties, playing bridge, golfing, and contributing to the community. While Pat volunteered to read to local children, Bill got involved with the Gasparilla Island Conservation and Improvement Association, continuing his dedication to conservation and protection of the areas he loved. Bill was a life long student of life and loved going to the educational programs offered on the island. He also started painting at age 80 and became a prolific artist. Exhibiting his work at the local Art Alliance, even selling a few. If you were fortunate to know him well, he may have even given you one of his works!
Bill’s friends were many, he could make a friend in a minute and hold them dear forever. He was interested in everyone and everything his entire life, and you always knew that he really cared about you. His family however, was his pride and his heart. His children and grandchildren meant everything to him. He touched many lives and made a difference in this world.
A funeral service will be held at St Francis Xavier Church in Petoskey, Mich. on Saturday, June 18 at 10:30 a.m. A reception will follow at Palette Bistro in Petoskey.
Donations in memory of Bill can be made to University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy, or Walloon Lake Association and Conservancy.