POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- The Rev. John R. Heller, of Poughkeepsie, died Tuesday, Nov. 15. He was 85.
He was born Feb. 2, 1931, in Youngstown, Ohio, the son of the late Walter and Thora (Carlson) Heller.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio and a Bachelor of Divinity Degree from Augustana Theological Seminary in Rock Island, Ill.. He earned a Master of Sacred Theology from New York Theological Seminary in New York City, a certificate from the Post Graduate Center also in New York City and completed courses for Clinical Pastoral Education-Health Care.
He also participated in numerous post-graduate courses at various Lutheran Seminaries throughout his ministry. Upon his ordination in June 1958, his first parish was Bernadotte Lutheran Church in the northeast Bronx. While there, he oversaw the building of a new sanctuary. In 1964, he accepted a call to Messiah Lutheran Church in Staten Island. While there, he served as president of the board of directors at Eger Lutheran Home and had the honor of presiding over an event honoring King Olav V of Norway. He also served as Chaplain at Willowbrook State School and was a member of the executive board of Metro New York Synod. In 1975, he accepted a call to St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Poughkeepsie. During his years of ministry, he supervised 26 interns placed by various seminaries to work with him.
He retired from St. John’s in 1998 and became pastor emeritus. He then became df pastoral care/chaplain at the newly opened Lutheran Care Center. Even though he couldn’t read a note of music, he was an enthusiastic director of the center's choir and led a very popular sing-along every Thursday afternoon. He continued his ministry at the center until his death. Residents and staff alike were all touched and blessed by his presence. He actively was involved in many aspects of life and agencies within Dutchess County and was a friend to all.
In addition to his wife Mary of 58 years, survivors include his children, Kristen Heller (David Karp), Jonathan (Mary) and Kathryn Weaver (Geoffrey); grandchildren, Sara and Christopher Heller and John, Mark and Jane Weaver.
He was predeceased by his sister Jean Mohler.
Calling hours will be held from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Friday at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 55 Wilbur Blvd., Poughkeepsie. The funeral service will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. John’s with interment to follow at Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery. A reception will take place at St. John’s in the Fellowship Hall.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions would be appreciated for the Lutheran Care Center or St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Arrangements are under the direction of Wm. G. Miller & Son F.H. Inc., 371 Hooker Ave., Poughkeepsie.
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