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Juanita Heckert

September 3, 1927 - April 17, 2020
Lawton, MI



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.

Okawville United Methodist Church
404 N Hanover, PO Box 185
Okawville, IL 66271
Web Site

Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan
222 N. Kalamazoo Mall, Ste. 100
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
(269) 345-0273
Driving Directions
Web Site


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

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

Life Story / Obituary


When reflecting on the life of Juanita Heckert, words such as encouraging and loving come to mind, but perhaps no greater word could describe her life than selfless. She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She treasured the time she spent with her growing family and enjoyed the company of each and every one of them. Her passion for travel was shared with her loving husband, Lenard, as they moved and lived in various places around the states as well as other popular international cities. Her loving presence and generosity will be dearly missed and fondly remembered.

Reflecting on the 1920s, it was a period of sustained economic prosperity with a distinctive cultural edge. Radio stations were growing in popularity throughout the US, and the media was focused on jazz music and celebrities. By 1927 Charles Lindbergh completed the first solo flight across the Atlantic and The Jazz Singer opened, ending the era of silent movies. That same year, Juanita was born the second youngest of eight children to her loving parents. Her birth brought her family much joy and happiness.

Growing up, Juanita was taught the importance of solid Christian values. Her father worked as a farmer and later a prison guard while her mother was a wonderful homemaker. Juanita excelled in school and had many special interests although she was drawn to helping others which led her to a career in the medical field. She and her husband, Lenard, met early on and were high school sweethearts. He left for the United States Army and was deployed to Japan while they were dating. They sent countless love letters to one another throughout his deployment overseas. While in Japan, Lenard surprised his future bride by purchasing the silk for her wedding dress! After he returned home, they were married and during their early years welcomed home three wonderful children: Nita, Boyd, and Paul.

Juanita cherished her role as a mother. She took time off from her medical technician job to stay home while the kids were young. As a mother, she was strict yet supportive. The kids always respected her quick temper, though she was known to let the kids skip school once in a while especially for the opening day of deer hunting season. As a family, they regularly attended church and never took their faith for granted. They were a close-knit family who loved spending time together and creating many lasting memories. Juanita was very active in her children’s lives and attended their many special events and celebrations while they were in school. They also traveled through the Badlands, Nebraska, and Wyoming; driving and camping along the way. As they moved around from place to place, Juanita was lucky to find work in area hospitals and landed her final position at Pipp Hospital in Plainwell where she was well-liked by her coworkers. Above all, she wanted nothing but the very best for her children. She was proud to have raised them with a faith life and the importance of being honest and true to themselves.

When she and Lenard retired, they enjoyed many years of traveling with his volunteer position as a business consultant for the United States Chamber of Commerce. They would spend months at a time at destinations all over the globe taking in the sights and visiting special places. Each trip created another close friendship with the people Lenard met as part of his volunteer work.

The church remained an important part of their lives. Juanita enjoyed volunteering for many events as well as gathering with her circles of friends. Juanita was mostly content spending time with her family. She had tried knitting but found she didn’t have the patience! She enjoyed reading her Bible and looking forward to the next visit from her growing family. Always one to look on the bright side of life, Juanita leaves behind the wonderful legacy of being friendly and kind to everyone she met. She greatly enjoyed being around people sharing her friendly smile, kind words, and listening ear. There is no doubt that she will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.

Juanita Heckert, age 92, daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother passed away Friday, April 17, 2020. Juanita was born September 3, 1927, in Venedy, Illinois to Edwin and Suzie (Staude) Lietz. She graduated from Okawville High School and Gradwohl Institute (medical technology) in St. Louis, Missouri. Juanita and her husband of 63 years, Lenard F. Heckert, were married on August 17, 1949. In their time together they lived in Champaign, Illinois; Fremont, Ohio; Hastings, Michigan; Belleville, Wisconsin; Wayland, Michigan; Greeneville, Tennessee; and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Upon retirement, Juanita and Lenard traveled as government consultants for IESC with service in Bangkok, Thailand; Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. She is survived by her children: Nita, Boyd, and Paul; 7 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

In accordance with her wishes, cremation has taken place. A memorial service will be planned for a later date. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign her online guestbook. Memorials may be made to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan, 222 N. Kalamazoo Mall Ste. 100, Kalamazoo, MI 49007 or Okawville United Methodist Church, 404 N. Hanover, PO Box 185, Okawville, Illinois, 62271. Arrangements by Betzler & Thompson Life Story Funeral Home, 60900 M-40 Hwy, Paw Paw, MI 49079, (269) 657-3870.