Chester J. Heil, (Chet), age 73, a 40+ year resident of the Mesilla Valley, passed away on September 2, 2020, following a brief series of health issues.
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Chet was born in Olean, New York, to Edward and Mary Heil. Chet attended Olean High School, where he met his high school sweetheart and best friend, Cheryl Krist. The two married in 1968, and had two children, Amy and Matthew.
After graduation, Chet worked for local Olean construction company, Bradley Builders. In 1966, Chet enlisted in the U.S. Navy Seabees, with his home base being Gulfport, Mississippi. He was deployed to Da Nang, Vietnam, where he helped build military facilities. Upon his return, newlyweds Chet and Cheryl moved to Rochester, New York, where Chet was hired by Eastman Kodak Company as a pipefitter. Ten years later, Chet and his family moved to the Southwest, and he started a water well drilling business, Heil Pump Sales & Service, Inc. in Las Cruces, New Mexico, with Cheryl and Al Carrison. Chet sold his business a few years ago and began his next chapter -- Retirement. Chet spent his time with his wife and family, traveling, enjoying their cabin in the mountains near Cloudcroft, and keeping busy with home projects.
Chet had many interests. He loved music, learning to play the accordion as a child. He also took up the Cordovox, and played during his time in the Navy, and in a local band upon his return home. He could often be found out in the backyard, building a new or improved item for the house. Chet believed in a sense of community, and giving back was important to him. He served on many boards and committees throughout the years, including the New Mexico Groundwater Association, Mesilla Valley Hospice, and his Property Owners Association in Cloudcroft. He remained active in his Seabee veterans group, NMCB-128, attending and helping the committee organize their annual reunions.
Chet always enjoyed chatting with people, whether it was those who stopped by the shop through the years to visit, fellow Seabees, kind neighbors, or his best buddies who had decades of stories amongst them.
Chet is survived by his loving wife of 52 years, Cheryl, his daughter Amy, his grandson Nicholas, sister Marnie and her husband Bill, his brother Ed, and the sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, cousins, and dear friends near and far who love him. He was preceded in death by his parents Ed and Mary, in-laws Pete and Genevieve, son Matthew, and brother-in-law Peter, as well as several beloved aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.
An opportunity to gather to celebrate Chet’s life will be held at a future date. Those who wish to honor Chet may do so by making a donation to local charities in his memory: Cowboys for Cancer Research (www.c4cr.com), PO Box 202, Dona Ana, NM 88032, or Mesilla Valley Hospice (www.mvhospice.org), 299 Montana Ave., Las Cruces, NM 88005.
Dreams do come true, and Chet lived an incredible life helping many. He was an honest, well-respected man who always strove to take the high road. He will be greatly missed.
Cremation arrangements by Getz Funeral Home, 1410 E. Bowman Ave., Las Cruces, NM 88001. To sign the online guest book, please visit: www.getzcares.com .