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Edward Richard “Eddie” Heidel, 69, of Haines, died April 8, 2006, at the Boise Veterans Extended Care Unit.
At his request, his body was cremated. There will be a celebration of his life Saturday, April 22, at the Haines School. Everyone is welcome to bring a potluck dish and share memories of Eddie.
He was born on Sept. 29, 1936, at Cincinnati to Earl and Eunice Schwartz Heidel. After graduation from Hamersville High School in Ohio in 1956, he joined the U.S. Army.
After a brief marriage and the birth of a son, he left Ohio for the West Coast. He spent some time in California and then moved to Portland where he became acquainted with Bev Johnson (currently Jones). The Johnsons employed Eddie at their Burlingame Chevron service station in 1973.
The Johnsons moved to Haines, acquiring the Circle H Bar, which now houses the Baker Alternative School. After sending Eddie to bartending school, they employed him to tend bar somewhere around 1981-82. He became known as “Fast Eddie,” but he was not fast, he was super slow and confused in the mixing of his drinks, rarely getting them correct.
Eddie was a very patriotic man, displaying his love of his country by flying the American flag from his home, his automobile and by some means of his clothing, whether by jacket, shirt and most notably by hats.
He became one of Haines’ most valuable, respected and loved assets. He cared for the elderly, running their errands, sitting through illnesses, mowing lawns and shoveling snow for the church. Whenever anyone in Haines had a need, Eddie was there.
He had earned the title of “Unofficial Caretaker of Haines,” never accepting payment for any of his errands or chores. He was always buying, giving and sharing with anyone who was his friend.
He loved teasing the children in Haines, who learned to love Eddie. He became the official Candy Man of Haines, but he would also distribute his candy about Baker City to whoever would smile at him.
When Eddie recently was in the Seattle hospital, he received more than 400 get-well cards from the children and residents of Haines. He once ran for mayor and came in second in the voting.
Eddie was a fire department volunteer for more than 20 years, carrying his scanner faithfully and rarely missing a fire. The department recently honored him by retiring his No. 10 to a permanent place on one of the fire engines.
His dedication to the fire department was displayed by his love of toy fire trucks, which he could not resist. They could be found all over his home and all of his vehicles. He was a member of the Elkhorn Grange for more than 20 years.
He voluntarily worked with and operated the annual fireworks display on the Fourth of July every year and worked faithfully at the annual Cowboy Breakfast at Haines. He spent his “spare time” stocking shelves at the Haines General Store for his longtime friend, Fred Zimmer.
Survivors include his son, Scott, and two grandsons, Spencer and Noah, of Richmond, Ky.; two brothers, Joseph of Cleveland, Tenn., and Earl of Bethel, Ohio; a sister-in-law, Betty, of Hamersville, Ohio; two nieces and four nephews; his best friends, Jerry McClure and Fred Zimmer; and the many children and residents of Haines he loved so much.
He was preceded in death by his parents; two brothers; and a sister, Blanche Heidel Mason.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Haines School, Fire Hall or Grange.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, April 14, 2006
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor