Gary J. Hein, age 65, of Litchfield, MN, died on Tuesday, July 24, 2018, at the St. Cloud Hospital surrounded by his family. Visitation will be held from 4:00 - 8:00 PM on Thursday, August 2, at Johnson-Hagglund Funeral Home in Litchfield. A memorial service will be held at 11:00 AM on Friday, August 3, 2018, at First Lutheran Church in Litchfield, MN with an interment following the service at Ripley Cemetery in Litchfield.
He is survived by his wife, Sue, of Litchfield; children Kristina Hein (fiancé Michael Landin) of West Fargo, ND; and Eric Hein (significant other Kayla Olson) of Dassel, MN; sisters Sandy (Denny) Anderson of Montevideo, MN and Peg (Bill) Trebesch of Andover, MN; brother Paul Hein of Princeton, MN; and brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Don and Anita Pouchnik of Ham Lake, MN.
Gary Jerome Hein, the son of Jerome and Joyce (Chelstrom) Hein, was born on February 16, 1953, in Princeton, MN. He graduated from Princeton High School and received his teaching degree from St. Cloud State University. Gary was a student teacher in Litchfield, and he met Sue while they were teaching in Ortonville, MN. He was united in marriage to Sue Pouchnik in Eveleth, MN, in 1980 and was a member of First Lutheran Church in Litchfield. Gary taught Industrial Technology in Litchfield from 1977 until he retired in 2013. He led his students in Supermileage competitions and started the Construction Technology program at Litchfield High School, where he and his students built 13 houses.
Mr. Hein/Heiner/Heindog truly enjoyed teaching his students. He saw them for who they were and who they could be, and he was seen as a caring mentor. To him, working with students was a pure joy, and he often commented that going to work was just fun. Teaching his students and watching them succeed in school and in life made him beam with pride.
He was also a licensed contractor and the proud owner of Hein Construction, where he built and remodeled many homes throughout our community, including building his own home on Lake Minnebelle in 1979. It was always his goal to live on a lake, and he built a life that he loved, full of family memories and stories of boating, fishing, ice skating and waterskiing, pontoon picnics, chats on the dock, building an icehouse and an iceboat with sails for gliding across Lake Minnebelle.
Another lifelong dream was to get his pilot’s license, which he did in 1991. He taught aviation classes at Litchfield High School and enjoyed time at the Litchfield Airport. Most of all, he loved flying near the clouds and the stars with his family, friends and sometimes flying solo.
He most often had some kind of tool in his hand, a pen sketching out a diagram (even in church a few times!) and he could build or fix anything that he put his mind to. He was an animal-lover, cake-baker, and a sharp and talented inventor. Most recently, he and his son, Eric, fully restored a 1951 Ford, and he was working on a 1951 Chevy. His family has already decided that together they will finish it.
It is clear that he was a man who loved many things, but most of all his family. He appreciated Sue for being understanding, supportive, and that they both kept their witty sense of humor through it all. He was proud to be able to see that Kristina and Eric found careers, people and lives that they loved, just as he did.
Even when it was difficult, he found happiness in working, building, doing, scheming and being a part of the milestones in the lives of his kids and others. But who was going to tell him to stop? Determination prevailed. For seventeen years he faced (and overcame!) leukemia and post-transplant health issues with optimism, courage and an attitude of joy and gratitude. He approached life with a smile and positivity that had a way of making others feel a zest for their own lives and futures.
In lieu of flowers, please consider contributing to the “Gary Hein Memorial Scholarship” fund which will be utilized to support and encourage students seeking education and a career in an industrial technology field. A scholarship fund has been established at MidCountry Bank in Litchfield. Contributions can be made at MidCountry Bank, or checks could be written to "Sue Hein" with "Gary Hein Memorial Scholarship" in the memo.