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September 19, 2017
Date of Service: September 25, 2017


Helen "Wendy" Gerez
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Melody Zajdel
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Sally Newby
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Ian Asay
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John Heaton

June 30, 1923 ~ February 12, 2017

Service: July 29, 2017 3:00 to 7:00 PM
   Location: Living History Farm at Museum of the Rockies

John R. ("Jack") Heaton passed away on Sunday, February 12, 2017, in Bozeman, Montana. He was born on June 30, 1923, in Macon, Missouri, and was the only son of Minos and Ruby Heaton. He grew up on his family's farm near Ethel, Missouri, where he attended elementary and high school. He attended Northeast Missouri State Teachers College at Kirksville, Missouri, for two years before entering the U.S. Navy in 1943. Training at a Navy V-12 Unit at Northwest Missouri State Teachers College and U.S. Naval Reserve Midshipman School at Columbia University led to a commission and was followed by duty in the Pacific. He was a Damage Control Officer while in the Navy and was in charge of the R Division on the USS Atlanta CL-104. The ship was awarded two Battlestars for its service in the Pacific. After separation from the service in 1946, he entered the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, and received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Wildlife Management in 1948 and a Master of Arts in Field Zoology (Fisheries) in 1951.

While he was a graduate student, he started work as a seasonal park ranger naturalist in Yellowstone National Park and worked there during the summers of 1948 through 1952. In June of 1951, Jack married Helen R. Field, and together they shared the next 62 years teaching, traveling and learning. In 1952 Jack joined the Oregon Fish Commission as an Aquatic Biologist for hatchery biology and salmon investigations. From 1954 to 1957 he was a District Fisheries Supervisor with the Nebraska Game, Forestation and Parks Commission. He then worked for a year as a Fisheries Research Biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Boise, Idaho, before joining the Montana Fish and Game Department in 1958. He was Project Biologist and Statewide Project Leader at Bozeman, Montana, until 1962 when he resigned so he could to do doctorate work. He obtained his PhD in Zoology in June of 1966 at MSU and moved that year to Stevens Point, Wisconsin, where he taught at the University of Wisconsin (UWSP) until his retirement in 1988. In his early years at UWSP, he also worked as a naturalist during the summers in both Yellowstone and Glacier Bay, Alaska. Also, while in Stevens Point, Jack was awarded the Brookie Award six times by Trout Unlimited for his contributions to trout habitat in Wisconsin. He also received a number of awards from the National Fisheries Society.

After both Jack and Helen had retired, they returned to Bozeman where they spent their time with family, friends, traveling and volunteering. Two organizations to which Jack donated significant time, energy and expertise were the Museum of the Rockies and Habitat for Humanity. He volunteered at the MOR for 19 years and was instrumental in the creation and maintenance of the heirloom gardens at the Tinsley House living history farm. He worked with Habitat for Humanity for 8 years. He was also a member of the Gallatin Garden Club for many years, sharing his love and extensive knowledge of gardening.

Jack is survived by his son, Jim Heaton of Bozeman; his nieces, Celia Field and Carla McCoy (Jon) of Washington State; great-nephew, Colby Field of Seattle; and nephews, Mike and Pat Sloan of Kansas.

Saturday, July 29, 2017, family and friends are invited to gather to celebrate Jack's life at the Living History Farm at the Museum of the Rockies from 3-7 p.m.

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