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Fred R. HeckermanDecember 19, 1922 ~ July 4, 2017 (age 94)
Fred R. Heckerman, Sr, 94, of Missoula passed away July 4, 2017, in his apartment at The Springs. Fred was born December 19, 1922, to Fred and Hilma Heckerman, in Great Falls. When he was 7 years old his father died and his mother and two younger brothers moved to Belt where he grew up and graduated from Belt Valley High School. It was in Belt where he met the love of his life Mabel M. Krebs. They dated through school and were married for over 72 years until Mabel passed away in 2016.
After high school Fred went to Bremerton, Washington, where he worked as a sheet metal worker. With the outbreak of World War II he went back to Montana where he enlisted in the Army Air Corp. Fred became an instructor pilot in Texas. During this time, he received a special assignment to work with four pilots who came back from the Bataan Death March. He was successful in helping all four to become flight qualified again.
On February 8, 1945, Fred came back to Montana and was married to Mabel M. Krebs by the Malmstrom AFB, chaplain. He then returned to duty in Texas. At the end of the War he returned to Montana and attended Montana State University where Mabel was teaching. He flew charter and dusted crops during college, and then received a BSME degree. He was a Bobcat from then on, and one of the few at The Springs.
After graduation, he took a job at Wright Patterson AFB in the Aero Med Lab. Here he worked with a number of German scientists and was instrumental in the development of the new oxygen systems, ejection seats and anti-G suits. These suits were designed for him and he wore the prototypes riding the centrifuge and discovering the effects of high “G” loads on the human body. During this time, he was recalled and served in the Lab as an Air Force officer. He served as an Acceptance Officer for the Air Force on the B-52 aircraft.
After being discharged from the Korean War he moved to California where he worked as Vice President of Sales and Engineering with Zep Aero to refurbish old oxygen equipment and design the new equipment. In 1954, he founded The Heckerman Corporation, a manufacturer’s representative firm serving the defense, aircraft and oceanographic markets. He was always proud that he provided the cable for the Minuteman Missile program, and equipment for the U.S. space program. Many of the specifications he developed are still used today.
He was a leader in business, built motels including several in Montana and served as a director for a number of companies during his lifetime. He worked at The Heckerman Corporation into his 80s where he worked with and was a partner with his son Fred, Jr. who eventually acquired The Heckerman Corporation.
Fred is survived by two sisters, Jeanne Heagle and Jane Roy, his children, Fred Heckerman, Jr. (Patsy), Brad B. Heckerman (Kapri) and Susan Beisel (Bruce). He and Mabel have 9 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren whom they loved dearly.