Ralph Heisterkamp, 73, died Saturday, June 22, 2019, at his home in Lake City, surrounded by his family and a lot of love. A Mass of Christian Burial was held on Wednesday, June 26, 2019, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Lake City. Celebrant was Father Lynn Bruch and burial was in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Lake City.
Ralph Heisterkamp passed away after a fast-paced 30-day battle with cancer, but he did it on his own terms and in true Heisterkamp style. The cancer did not win – he did – leaving this world behind on a Saturday night with thunder and lightning in the sky and cold beer on his lips.
He was born on October 25, 1945, in Carroll, Iowa, to Edgar and Dorothy (Tegels) Heisterkamp. He grew up in Breda, showing off his baseball talents on the field and working on farms around the area. On August 8, 1964, he married Linda Schulte at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Auburn. They eventually settled in Lake City, where they made their home and raised three children, teaching them the values of hard work, responsibility, humor, and to always have respect for others around them. Ralph and Linda celebrated 54 years of marriage and everyone who saw them always commented on his devotion, care, and love for his wife.
From the age of 15, Ralph was a master auto body repairman and refinisher, with a career spanning 47 years, with 32 of them at Clement Auto and Truck in Fort Dodge. From cars and trucks to semis and race cars, there wasn’t anything he couldn’t fix or cover with a paint gun in hand. He had high standards and was meticulous in his work, putting forth only his best on any project he faced – including painting a friend’s dishwasher eggplant purple. He enjoyed going to classic car shows where he would inspect the body work and comment on the good, the bad, and the ugly.
After retirement, Ralph continued to stay active behind the wheel by transporting vehicles for Macke Motors, driving limousines for a local business, and was employed by MIDAS as a bus driver for Opportunity Living and handled other transports as needed, such as getting young students to St. Mary’s Catholic Church’s CCD classes each week. Everyone he worked for always knew they could count on him to help out whenever he was available and he would get the job done.
In his adult life, Ralph was active in the community and involved in men’s softball league (he helped build the ball field next to the high school in Lake City), horseshoe pitching (helped build the horseshoe courts at Goins Park), bowling, and later in life, kayaking and traveling with his family. He was an avid follower and supporter of high school football, cheering on the Lake City Eagles, Southern Cal Mustangs, and SCC Titans each season. He also attended Manson Northwest Webster football games to watch his grandsons play and granddaughter cheer and perform with the dance team (even attending Drill Team nights), plus Luther College games when his oldest grandson played for the Norse. Over the years, he could always be found walking around Lake City on the walking trail or other areas of town, and many have commented on how they will miss seeing him walk by and waving or saying hello.
Ralph was a man of few words but so much incredible laughter. His sense of humor was contagious, as was his roaring laugh that carried far and wide. Even during his illness, he always managed to find a one-liner or two to keep spirits high for those around him.
Ralph had a love of nature, mountains, animals, but most of all his family. He is survived by his wife Linda of Lake City; children Julie (Russ) Ashbrook of Manson, Scott (Mollie) Heisterkamp of Sandpoint, Idaho and Jill Heisterkamp of Rockwell City; grandchildren Sean Hood, Erin Hood and her children Marisa and Ty, and Trevor Hood; sister Marilyn (Rudy) Babe of Breda; brother Ron Heisterkamp of Morrow, GA; brothers-in-law Paul Hike, Sr. of Jefferson, Harlan Underberg of Lidderdale and Bud Kennebeck of Carroll; sister-in-law Mary Heisterkamp of Manning and many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents Edgar and Dorothy Heisterkamp; siblings Donna Underberg, Donnie Heisterkamp, Charlotte Hike, and Eddie Heisterkamp; sisters-in-law Mary Jane Heisterkamp, Nancy Heisterkamp, and Gayleen Kennebeck; and nephew Keith Hike.
To sum up, his former boss, Larry Clement said it best: “As a person goes through life, you compare people to each other and yourself. Ralph was one-of-a-kind. There was no one who compared to him.”