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Kenneth Franklin Heezen

January 14, 2011

Nags Head, North Carolina – Mr. Kenneth Franklin Heezen, 80, passed away peacefully at his oceanfront home on Saturday, 14 May.  He was born in Bowdle, South Dakota on 10 May 1931. The eldest child of two children, Ken grew up in Buchanan, Michigan.  He graduated from Western Michigan University with degrees in Mathematics and Psychology, and did graduate work at the University of Michigan in Engineering, getting his P.E. in Mechanical Engineering in 1978.

Ken met the love of his life Patricia Chandler in South Bend, Indiana and they were married on 9 June 1956.  In 1959, Ken and his family arrived at Cape Canaveral, Florida to join the race to the moon as one of the pioneering engineers working on the United States space program.  Ken loved to tell stories of his professional career as a rocket scientist for NASA, working on both the Gemini and the Apollo space programs.  He said his proudest professional achievement was being part of the ground team that helped Apollo 11 land the first humans on the Earth’s Moon on 20 July 1969.  Ken’s name is welded on a steel beam at the top of NASA’s 525 foot high Vertical Assembly Building (VAB) at Cape Kennedy.

Ken loved spending time at his Nags Head Beach houses, sharing bushels of crabs and oysters with his daughters and with a wide circle of friends.  One of his favorite hobbies during his retirement years was Real Estate investing, and he took great joy in the practical application of math to everyday life.  He was naturally good at sports and games of logic and skill, and was an avid college basketball fan.  He loved music and was a particularly good dancer, enjoying especially the Big Band sounds of Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw.  His pastimes also included dogs, fishing, and a well-known passion for lighting fireworks.

Ken is survived by his wife Pat Heezen, his children and their families, Sharon and Mike Altiser and their children, Heather, Casey and Nick; Sandra Heezen and Andrew Goldkuhle and their children, Maxwell, Carolina and Jolena.  He was preceded in death by his parents, Franklin and Annette Heezen, sister Barbara Anderson, and son Frank Heezen.

Family and friends will celebrate Ken’s long and joyful life at a memorial service to be held in the Outer Banks later this year. A mass will be said in Kenneth Heezen’s memory at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Nags Head June 4, 2011 at 5:30 pm.  In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to a local charity of choice.

Condolences to the family may be expressed via the online register at  Gallop Funeral Services, inc. was entrusted with arrangements.