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Life Story / Obituary
Iris Teresa Heinecke passed away peacefully on Saturday, December 4, 2021, with her family by her side. She was a beloved grandmother, affectionately known as “G-ma,” mother, and wife during her 87 years of life. Iris was born June 7, 1934 in County Armagh in Northern Ireland and was the daughter of George and Catherine (Hughes) Ewart and sister to three siblings. She spent her early years in Ireland and then England before meeting her future husband, Clarence “Mel” Heinecke at an army base dance in England. Iris and Mel were married for 36 years, and together they had two children, Roy and Linda. It’s with her family that Iris spent a majority of her life in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Full of tenacity and spirit, Iris loved to dance; play anything by Elvis and she was on the floor. She also enjoyed trying her luck, whether that was the daily lottery nearly every day, or road trips to Vegas to play Keno. And she took great pride and care in everything that she did, including her garden. Iris was a dedicated and proud employee of Western Michigan University for 30 years before she retired.
Iris lost Clarence early and was widowed at the age of 60. She was a woman of unwavering Catholic faith and demonstrated resilience and strength in this moment and every moment. In the years that followed Iris poured her generosity, love, and time into her children and grandchildren. While Iris was not a fan of saying “I love you,” her family felt her love through her actions every day. She was a daily presence in the lives of her children and grandchildren, always their biggest fan and supporter. She never missed a moment and was in attendance at every single game, often cheering a little too loud from the stands. Iris will be remembered for her quick wit and unmatched sarcasm, her endearing Irish stubbornness, her generosity, and her love and commitment.
Iris is survived by her children: Roy Heinecke, Linda Bechtel and her husband Jeff Bechtel; and her grandchildren: Jessica Bechtel, Tyler Bechtel, and Casey Bechtel. She was preceded in death by her husband, Clarence “Mel” Heinecke; parents: George and Catherine Ewart; siblings: Helen Boland, George Ewart, and Patricia Ewart; and her dog Blizzard, who she may have loved the most.
A private burial will take place for the family at Mt. Ever Rest Memorial Park. Please visit Iris’ webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, or sign her guestbook. Memorial donations may be directed to SPCA of Southwest Michigan or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900.