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Sunday, December 9, 2012

In Loving memory of Len Heinle, A Special Spartan

It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that Len Heinle, Susan's beloved cousin and our "Uncle Leonard," passed away quietly after suffering a severe stroke earlier in the week.  Len was a brilliant man, who graduated from Michigan State with honors at the age of 20 and went on to distinguish himself in his career at Ford Motor Company as a vice president in the credit division.

But most memorable will be Len's infectious laugh, his devotion to a good time, his provocative sense of humor, his interest and willingness to prod others to a retort, and his generous affable spirit.  Susan and I visited with him on Thursday, and after teasing Susan about maintaining her status as his favorite cousin, he was quick to remember his beloved Spartans.  When told that Dan had sent him a Sparty Beer Glass, he laughed, and said, "That Dan!"  How prophetic those turned out to be his last words to us.  Shortly after visiting with his son Biff, who had driven in from DC, he lapsed into repose from whence he began his final transition.

Watching my dad Geno, Father Bill and Len share their September birthdays together was a sight to behold.  The 3 of them all knew with the benefit of humor and age just how to needle each other perfectly.  Will we ever see a more hilarious scene than Bill and Len discussing politics-- Bill the liberation theologist priest, and Len, the free market Reaganite?  Bill, we will have to count on you and you alone now to carry the torch of free and unfettered speech. 

Len left in a flash this week, after time visiting with his children for Thanksgiving.  We've been blessed and spoiled to have him around for party's, dinners and family gatherings these past few years after Joanie and Geno were gone.  

I suspect Len would expect the spirited back and forth to continue flowing like well-made Manhattans.  Wearing his favorite tie, the one with the dogs playing poker, and his MSU fighting hat, I can see him still in the background raising his glass and howling, "Sparty on!"

He was loved and will be missed dearly. 

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