Reverend Father Lawrence Richard Heitke entered eternal life on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, at the age of 77, at his home in the town of Rome.
He was born on Jan. 25, 1941, in Wisconsin Dells, and was predeceased by his parents, Clarence and Irmina Mary (Beckius) Heitke and his sister, Norma Jean (Heitke) Borman.
After attending St. Mary grade school in Portage, Father Heitke entered Queen of Apostles Seminary, Madison. He studied philosophy and theology at St. John Seminary, Collegeville, Minnesota, where he graduated with a B.A. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Cletus F. O’Donnell on May 20, 1967, at St. Raphael Cathedral, Madison.
Father Heitke began serving the Diocese of Madison as parochial vicar of St. Aloysius Parish, Sauk City; St. Patrick Parish, Janesville, and St. Joseph Parish, Fort Atkinson. He was appointed chaplain at Oakhill State Correctional Institute, Oregon, Wisconsin, and chaplain at the William S. Middleton Memorial Medical Center Veterans Hospital, from which he resigned in 1998. During his years of service to the Diocese of Madison, Father Heitke served as a help-out priest at St. William Parish, Paoli; Priest of the Worldwide Marriage Encounter Team; diocesan chaplain for the Catholic Committee on Scouting; chaplain of the Dominic Club, and chaplain for the Lake Mills Eagles, police department, and Knights of Columbus. He also ministered at the Badger Prairie Health Care Center, Verona; the Lady of Guadalupe Mission, Endeavor; the Sandridge Secured Treatment Center, Mauston, part of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Columbia County Correctional facility in Portage and Philmont Scout Ranch Chaplain, New Mexico.
His personal interests included hunting and fishing with his friends, participating in the annual Governor’s Fishing Open, photography, stamp collecting, scouting and supporting the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. In retirement, some friends helped him create “Fishing with the Padre,” a nonprofit venture for fisher people with challenges.
He entered eternal life on Feb. 28, 2018. He was a good son and a good brother, loving uncle and will be missed by many.
He is survived by his sister, Beverly Heitke, SDS; his brothers, Lester (Cherie) Heitke and Louis (Tia) Heitke; his brother-in-law, James Borman; several nieces, nephews, and grandnieces and grandnephews.
The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 3, at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 309 W. Cook St., Portage. Most Reverend Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison, will be the main celebrant with the Rev. Gary Krahenbuhl as homilist. Visitation will be from 10 a.m. until the start of Holy Mass on Saturday, March 3, at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. Interment at St. Mary Catholic Cemetery in Portage, will follow. A funeral luncheon will follow immediately after burial.
Kratz Funeral Home-Portage (www.kratzfuneralhome.com) is assisting with arrangements.