Walter Webb Heck
Passed away on May 23, 2019
Walter Webb Heck was born May 28, 1926 in Columbus, Ohio. He died on May 23, 2019 in Raleigh, North Carolina just 5 days short of his 93rd birthday. Walt married Corinne Ruth Schiller Heck, on December 23, 1959 in Grand Rapids, MI. They were married nearly 60 years until Corinne’s death just eight months ago. He was also preceded in death by his daughter Frances Elizabeth (Heck) Barker, and his step-son David Hentz. He is survived by two children: Frederick Heck and Carolyn Ruth Heck; two step-children: Lee Arthur Hentz and Ninon Hentz; 13 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother, James Baker Heck and his sister, Martha Elizabeth (Heck) Little along with numerous nieces and nephews. Walt graduated from the Columbus public schools in 1944 and from the Ohio State University in 1947 with majors in the biological and physical sciences from the College of Education. Over the next several years he pursued his graduate education, while taking breaks to teach junior high school science. In 1950 he graduated from the University of Tennessee, with an MS in plant physiology. In 1954 he earned his Ph.D. in Botany at the University of Illinois, where he graduated with a major in botany and minor in chemistry. In 1955 he accepted an Assistant Professorship at Ferris State College in Big Rapids, MI. In 1959 he accepted an Associate Professorship at Texas A & M University where he taught graduate courses in plant physiology and developed a research program to determine the effects of air pollutants on agricultural crops. Walt’s air pollution work led to a long and very productive career as a research scientist for various government agencies including programs with the USDA, EPA, NASA, DOE, and U.S. Forest Service. Most of this work was done at NC State in Raleigh where the USDA air pollution program was located. He was highly regarded by his peers in the research community because of his many contributions to understanding the effects of air pollution on agricultural, forest, and native vegetation. He most often served these programs in leadership roles because of his ability to build relationships and work cooperatively with diverse groups. He was a member of numerous professional organizations and recipient of numerous recognitions and awards. He retired from the USDA in 1995 but remained active as an air quality consultant for another 10 years. Walt liked to play cards and was always ready for a game of hearts or bridge. He was also a fierce competitor on the croquet court and rarely lost but also enjoyed seeing others take the win. He was a very welcoming and accepting person with a calm, friendly demeanor. He will be greatly missed by his family and many friends. A memorial service will be held for Walt on Saturday, June 8 at 2:00 pm at the Springmoor Retirement Community, 1500 Sawmill Rd, Raleigh NC, in the North Village Auditorium.
- Memorial Service Saturday, June 8, 2019