Life Story / Obituary
Conrad Heins, 83, of Traverse City, passed away peacefully at home on December 4, 2022. He was a cherished husband to Alison Heins and the world’s best father to Sylvia and Roo (Katherine), as well as a beloved teacher to the middle school, high school, and college students he taught over the years, and a dear friend to others far and wide.
Conrad was born on April 25, 1939, in Kolar, India, to Conrad P. and Margaret V. Heins, and spent the early years of his life at Kodaikanal International School in Tamil Nadu. He returned to the United States to attend college, graduating from Drew University and earning his PhD in organic chemistry at the University of Illinois. While completing postdoctoral work at Cornell, he met Alison, his one true love, and they married in 1965. Conrad worked as a research chemist in Delaware and Colorado before finding his real vocation as a teacher at Scattergood Friends’ School in Iowa, then Jordan Energy Institute in Michigan. In his life he taught many subjects—chemistry, biochemistry, mathematics, and especially renewable energy technology—but no matter what the topic, he was treasured by his students as an enthusiastic, engaged, and compassionate teacher who cared deeply about their learning. After he and Alison moved to Leelanau County in 1995, he taught at St. Mary School in Lake Leelanau and at Northwest Michigan College, earning countless accolades from his students.
Beyond teaching, Conrad loved many things. He was a gifted athlete: an award-winning tennis player and runner in his youth, he later took up hiking and mountaineering. Camping trips in the Rocky Mountains and the Manitou Islands are among his family’s favorite memories. He also loved music and had a beautiful tenor voice. He sang in the Central United Methodist choir for years, as well as with the barbershop quartet Backward Glance. And he had a great talent for baking—he made outstanding bread and loved to make pies and jam from local fruit.
A recent note from one of his innumerable friends sums up Conrad in a few words: “Conrad walked through the world with grace, bestowing kindness and generosity on all he met. An intellectual, yet humble; wise, yet quiet; speaking thoughtfully when he had something to say, yet always listening while finding the right words. Loved by all who knew him for so many, many reasons, he will be greatly missed by all.”
A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, December 10, at 2 p.m. at Traverse City’s Central United Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to Justice for Our Neighbors and Harbor Humane Society.
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