Popular officer Dave Heilig dies
Former Harrison County Police Officer David E. Heilig, affectionately known as ‘Doo-Da’ by his friends, died Thursday, Sept. 30, 2004, at Norton Hospital in Louisville after a long battle with leukemia. He was 60.
‘He was one of my best friends,’ said Randy Orme, who first worked with Heilig in corrections at the Harrison County Jail then later when they were road officers.
‘I think the county is a better place for him being here,’ said Orme, adding that Heilig did a lot of school projects, some on his own time.
Orme was one of the many people who paid their respects to the Heilig family Saturday, Sunday and early Monday at Swarens Funeral Home in Ramsey. Police officers took turns standing guard over Heilig’s casket.
Late Monday morning, a long procession of police cars, including state, county and towns, fire trucks and ambulances escorted Heilig’s body from the funeral home, past his home to St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Bradford for the funeral. Officiants were Father John Fink and Richard Goodwin, a chaplain with the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept.
‘Dave had the special ability to make people feel happy,’ said Goodwin, who told of the time Heilig had arrested a contrary young man who, after talking with Heilig, was glad to go to jail and was apologetic for having done something that caused him to be arrested.
Goodwin also read a message written by Heilig’s daughter, Sandra Schilmiller. She said that ‘a shining day’ for her father was when he graduated, as a much older student, from the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy near Plainfield. ‘It was with a sense of great pride that he could hang in there with the young guys and graduate at the top of his class,’ she said.
Officer Lee Hancock of the Zionsville Police Dept., a former captain with the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept., was one of Heilig’s supervisors for many years and a close friend.
‘Dave was an unique individual,’ Hancock said Monday during the funeral Mass. ‘He was genuine … and really at peace with himself.
‘You never heard Dave brag or boast,’ Hancock said, ‘but he was always the first to congratulate you for your accomplishments.’
Hancock recalled his conversation with Heilig about two years ago when Hancock announced he was taking a law enforcement position in Zionsville.
‘Dave said, ‘I don’t know how the county’s going to replace you,’ ‘ Hancock said. ‘We can say the same thing today about Dave. I don’t know how we’re going to replace you.’
Heilig was laid to rest in his county police uniform in St. Michael’s Church Cemetery. Officer Marty McClanahan presented his widow with a Bible from the Fraternal Order of Police, Wyandotte Lodge 171, the lodge that Heilig once belonged to. Officers folded an American Flag over the coffin and presented that also to his widow, Evelyn.
A native of Crandall, born Oct. 9, 1943, Heilig was a 1961 graduate of the old North Central High School. He was a former security guard for Brown and Williamson Tobacco Co. and The Courier-Journal and Louisville Times in Louisville, and Keller Manufacturing Co.. He once worked for the Harrison County Highway Dept. He ran for sheriff in the Primary election in 2002 on the Democrat ticket.
Survivors include his wife, the former Evelyn R. Becht; a daughter, Sandra (Sandy) Schilmiller of New Salisbury; two sons, Brian D. Heilig of Bradford and Jeffrey W. (Speedy) Heilig of New Salisbury, and four grandchildren.
Pallbearers were Ernie Emily, Jim Endris, Lee Hancock, Brandon Heilig, Gary Heilig, Paul McCauley, Marty McClanahan and Nicholas Schilmiller.