Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Dr. Charles F. Heller

November 15, 1931 - July 25, 2023
Kalamazoo, MI



Friday, August 4, 2023
12:00 PM to 1:00 PM EDT
St. Thomas More Parish
421 Monroe Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49006
Web Site


Friday, August 4, 2023
1:00 PM EDT
St. Thomas More Parish
421 Monroe Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49006

An Ice-Cream Social will follow in the church hall.

Web Site


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes
901 Portage Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49001
(269) 488-2617
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
Driving Directions
Web Site

Taylor's Florist and Gifts
215 E. Michigan Ave.
Paw Paw, MI 49079
(269) 657-6256
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Charlie was born November 15, 1931, in Kansas City, Missouri, the son of Charles Frederick Sr. and Kathryn (Meagher) Heller. He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister and his grandson Charlie Wolf. Members of his family include his children - Marian, Trini & Rick, Theresa, Paul, Vince & Simi; his grandchildren - Zoë, Chris, Sarah, Katelyn, Courtney, Bryan, Julia and Patrick and great-grandchildren - Gwen and Graham.

Charlie graduated from high school in 1948, where he was a member of the Air Force ROTC program. He attended Junior College, and then graduated from Kansas University in 1952. He served in the United States Air Force from 1953-1955, when he was honorably discharged at the conclusion of the Korean War. He made many good, life-long friends in the service and always enjoyed sharing stories about that wonderful time in his life. He received his master’s degree in 1957 and attended the University of Illinois from 1957 – 1960, receiving his doctoral degree.

Traveling to the far-away land of New Zealand in 1960 to work on his doctoral thesis about farming on the Canterbury plains, Charlie met the love of his life, Rita McDonnell. They married in New Zealand and returned to Illinois to begin their new life together.

Charlie’s first job took him to Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he spent his entire career as a Professor of Geography.

In 1965, Charlie was able to take a year-long position in New South Wales, Australia. This allowed he and Rita to take their young family down to New Zealand to visit the McDonnell family there before and after their time in Australia. This was a very special and poignant year in their lives, providing many wonderful experiences and allowing them to meet so many wonderful people.

Playing cards, especially cribbage and hearts (he even learned to play on-line during the pandemic!), racquetball and golf, listening to music, reading, traveling and camping were all activities that Charlie enjoyed. He was a devoted grandfather and loved attending his kids’ and grandkids’ various activities and events. He loved nothing more than spending time in a bookstore, finding just the right book to gift to someone.

Charlie was involved for decades with the Cursillo movement and participated in Group Reunion throughout that time. The faith and fellowship he shared with these men were an integral part of his life. He had a tremendous love for the Lord, his family and all his friends. His love and faith were evident to all who met him; his joyful soul was a pleasure to be around, and his smile was always a welcome sight.

At the age of 91 Charlie died on July 25, 2023, peacefully at his home. Charlie was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Rita (McDonnell) Heller in 2019; grandson, Charlie Wolf, and sister, Katherine Reck. Members of his family include children: Marian Heller, Katrine “Trini” (Rick) Nichols, Theresa Heller, Paul Heller and Vince (Simone) Heller; grandchildren: Zoe Dickerson, Chris Nichols, Sarah (Paul) Porter, Katelyn Nichols, Courtney Segota, and Bryan, Julia and Patrick Heller; and great-grandchildren: Gwendolyn and Graham Porter. Cremation has taken place. Mass will be celebrated Friday, August 4, 2023, 1PM at St. Thomas More Parish with visitation beginning at 12noon. An ice-cream social will follow in the church hall. Private burial at Ft. Custer National Cemetery. Visit Charlie’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign his guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Loaves and Fishes. Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49009 (269) 375-2900