John B. Heilman Jr. 1920-2013

Posted June 13, 2013 at 11:38 am

John B. Heilman Jr. (JB), 92, of Miller, S.D., died Tuesday, June 4, 2013.

OBIT Heilman .psd

Memorial services were held at 10:30 a.m. Monday, June 10 at the First Presbyterian Church in Miller with the Rev. Brian Jones officiating.  Burial was at G.A.R. Cemetery in Miller with military and Masonic honors.

JB was born on June 18, 1920, to Elizabeth and John B. Heilman Sr. in Miller, S.D.  He was raised on the Heilman family farm and attended school in Pleasant Valley Township.  He graduated from Miller High School in 1939 and was engaged in farming until he joined the US Marine Corps in January 1942.  During WWII JB served on Guadalcanal and other South Pacific islands including the New Hebrides and Marshall Islands where he was awarded the Silver Star. His time in the South Pacific was temporarily interrupted by a severe bout of malaria/yellow fever, after which he returned to finish out his tour at the battlefront. 

JB married Lucille Morrison on December 23, 1944, and they lived in Newburn, South Carolina, until he was discharged from the Marines.   The couple then returned to South Dakota, and JB attended South Dakota State University. While at the university he joined the rifle team and won many sharp shooting medals.

JB and Lucille bought the Highway Store south of Miller where they lived from 1947 to 1954 and started their family. He was elected to the South Dakota Legislature and served in the State House of Representatives from 1953 to 1954. JB and Lucille later moved to Miller, and he was hired by the US Department of Agriculture, where he continued to work until his retirement in 1985. 

Although his vocation involved a great deal of travel both east and west of the Missouri River, his weekends and vacations were devoted to his real passion of working the Heilman farm and instilling that love in his family. His zest for life was manifested by his plethora of interests and accomplishments ranging from hunting with his boys, four-wheeling and exploring new trails, sharp shooting, skiing, scuba diving, waltzing with Lucille, solving the world’s problems with his daily coffee group, owning and flying his own planes, raising pheasants, planting and caring for trees, to meeting and interacting with all types of people. All of these activities involved and were shared with his family.

He was a true American patriot and a proud member of the Marine Corps League. He also was a lifetime member of the Masonic Lodge, Shriners, VFW, NRA, Elks, and the First Presbyterian Church of Miller.

JB was preceded in death by his parents Elizabeth and John Heilman; three brothers Henry, George, and Elmer; one sister Irene; and his oldest son John III. 

He is survived by his beloved wife of 69 years, Lucille; daughter Linda (John) Palmer of Billings, Mont.; two sons, Craig Heilman of Huron and Douglas Heilman of Miller; daughter-in-law Cathy Heilman of Huron; grandchildren Emily and Jason Palmer of Billings, Mont., Christina (Austin) Geiger of Driggs, Idaho, Melissa Heilman of Huron, and John Heilman VI of Glendale, Ariz.; and great-granddaughter Alena Heilman of Huron.

Memorials will be donated to the Disabled American Veterans (DAV). Friends and family may sign John’s online register at

One last time from the Old Codger – “Keep your powder dry.”

(Paid obituary)

John B. Heilman Jr. 1920-2013