Cover photo for Louis John Heitlinger's Obituary
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Louis John Heitlinger

Louis John Heitlinger, 92, passed away on November 8, 2023 in Willoughby, Ohio. His heart had worked as long and as hard as it could.  He was born on September 25, 1931 in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Lambert and Elizabeth Heitlinger.

Lou grew up in Kansas City, Missouri with his brother Tommy and two cousins, Mary and Martha Gumminger.  Lou served in the Navy and completed two world tours during the Korean Conflict. His childhood hobby of assembling crystal radios turned into repairing naval aircraft radios. His electronics training set the course for his career in engineering.  After the Navy, he attended the University of Kansas obtaining both a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering. He started his career in medical technology as researcher at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka.

Lou loved to tell stories.  In addition to sharing his experiences of his time in the Navy, one of his favorite tales resulted from a boast and a bet that although his VW Beetle wasn’t powerful, at least it could float!  After careful preparations, he backed up his claim and succeeded in floating his car in Lake Shawnee in Topeka.  After rolling down the boat ramp, he stood on the seats, popped out of the sunroof, and proceeded to paddle the car around the lake.  The next morning, the photos and story of his escapade appeared on the front page of the Topeka Daily Capitol newspaper.

In the mid-60s, Lou relocated to Washington, DC, where he met Shirley Callihan through the Georgetown Catholic Club. They were married in June 1966.  They eventually settled in Waukesha, Wisconsin and raised their family: Anne, John, and Karen. Throughout his life, Lou valued community service and social justice. He and Shirley modeled the importance of making a positive difference in the world. He was always an active volunteer at church and in the community.

In Wisconsin, Lou continued to build on his career in medical technology with General Electric Medical Systems.  He ultimately completed 26 years of service with GE.  During his long tenure, he managed engineering teams that developed and patented patient monitoring systems, multiple generations of CT scanners and other innovative medical technologies.

Lou developed a passion for genealogy, spending many hours reviewing microfiche and deciphering old German script.  He was able to trace the Heitlinger family back to 1696 in Tiefenbach, Germany.  He traced the Callihans back to 1757 in what is now Northern Ireland.   He happily shared his talents, tracing family roots for friends and family. His other hobbies included cheering on the KU Jayhawks basketball team, chasing hot air balloons, and restoring antique radios.   His efforts to make his own hot air balloon and construct a full-size windmill in the backyard of their Waukesha home were less successful.

After retirement, Lou and Shirley moved to Butler, Pennsylvania to be near Shirley’s family. They enjoyed traveling and provided great support to their children. After Shirley’s death in 2005, Lou moved to Stow, Ohio where he specialized in family house projects and ice cream tasting. In recent years, he resided at Ohio Living Breckenridge Village in Willoughby. The family greatly appreciates all the support he received from the Ohio Living staff as he moved through different levels of care on the Breckenridge Village campus.

He was proceeded in death by wife Shirley, brother Tommy, and parents Lambert and Elizabeth.

He is survived by his children:  Anne (Nicholas Franco), John (Meg), and Karen (Mauro Coletta).  And by his grandchildren: Elizabeth, Kate, and Max.  The family carries on his love of all baked goods each time they are together or travel to new places.

Lou highly valued education and established scholarships to honor family members at Rockhurst College, Slippery Rock College, and Butler County Community College.  In lieu of flowers, Lou requested donations to Butler County Community College.  Donations can be made to the Shirley Callihan Heitlinger Nursing Scholarship or to the Area of Greatest Need. Donations can be sent to the BC3 Education Foundation, PO Box 1203, Butler, PA 16003 or on-line at . In the future, the family will be establishing a scholarship at the University of Kansas School of Engineering in his honor.

There will be a Celebration of Life ice cream social on Saturday, November 18th from 1:00-3:00pm at Mitchell’s Ice Cream Ohio City, 1867 W. 25th Street, Cleveland, Ohio.  Street parking and paid lots nearby.

There will be a visitation at 9:00am and a funeral mass at 10:00am on Tuesday, November 21, 2023, at Mater Dolorosa Church of St. Clare of Assisi Parish, 409 N. Main Street, Chicora, PA. Immediately following, Lou will be interred at Hemphill Cemetery in Chicora, next to Shirley. Luncheon to follow at the church.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Louis John Heitlinger, please visit our flower store.


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