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In Memory

John David Heckel

John David Heckel

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07/27/20 09:20 PM #1    

Sonja Burkhart (Englund)

According to a newspapera article I have from The Tulsa World, John David Heckel died in March 1998 having been shot to death in his home near Owasso. His wife was booked into the Tulsa Jail on a complaint of first-degree murder. Heckel was 57.

The following is all taken from that newspaper article:

"He was born in 1940 in Great Bend, KS. Before joining the World, he was a sergeant in the U.S. Army and Air National Guard. He was a veteran in the World photography department, having worked there for 28 years. He received numerous awards and honors from The Associated Press, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Oklahoma Press Association for his features, news and sports photography.  In 1996, he won first place for a spot news photo in an Associated Press contest.

"World Assistant Chief Photographer Daryl Wilson said Heckel 'loved being a newspaper photographer more than he loved anything else.  He was always an inspiration to everyone who worked with him because of that dedication....I think it's his dedication that people will remember, but he'll just want people to remember his pictures.'

"Former Chief Photographer Johnny Walker, who spent 40 years in the World photo department, said he remembered Heckel as a master photo mechanic, who could always get the shot he wanted no matter what kind of equipment he had. 'He can make any lens in any camera do what he wants it to do. Very few people can do that.' Walker hired Heckel in 1969 after he found him working in a darkroom at 11th Street and Detroit Ave.  He said he called Heckel and told  him to come by sometime to talk about a job as a full-time photographer. "I hung up the phone and it wasn't two minutes later when I heard this thump, thump, thump coming down the hallway. He ran from 11th and Detroit all the way down to the paper. He was out of breath. He wanted it so bad.'

"World Executive Editor Joe Worley described Heckel as one-of-a-kind. 'He never stopped working. He always listed to his police and fire radios because he never wanted to miss a story.  He shot pictures on his day off.' He also said Heckel had a great love for the newspaper and for photography. 'We will miss his passion for this business.  We will miss this kind and gentle man.'"

The article goes on to say he was a hot air balloon enthusiast wanting to become a pilot & have a balloon of his own.  He also made sure he was the photographer assigned to ballooning events. One of Heckel's favorite places to shoot pictures was the Tulsa Zoo and he would dress up as Misha the polar bear for the zoo's yearly ZooLightFul winter tours.He loved to work in his garden, raised rare irises, raised pygmy dairy goats for their milk and to make goat cheese, and he had an appetite that was legendary.

"He is survived by his mother, Margaret,; a son, Matthew Richard David Heckel; and four stepchildren: Michael, Joy, Jenny, and Dan Whittlesey." Services were handled by Stanleys Funeral Service. 

 Submitted by Sonja (Burkhart) Englund


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