Former FDL Police Chief Mel Heller Passes Away
Former Fond du Lac Police Chief Mel Heller passed away over the weekend. Heller served on the Police Department from 1949 to 1990 retiring as police chief. He also served about 20 years as a Fond du Lac County supervisor following his retirement. County Executive Al Buechel says he was a unique individual. He says he was very strong police officer and police chief. He says he had to be strong in that position, when he became a County Board member he became concerned about the people and the well being of the County. Former Fond du Lac Police Chief Tony Barthuly served under Heller and also knew him when he was a boy. He remembers the motorcycle Heller used to ride. Barthuly says his father was a fireman and back in the day there were police and firemen picnics and Mel would bring his motorcycle out and would have ice creams bars for the kids. Last August at the age of 90 Heller had the honor of cutting the ribbon for the new north entrance to the City-County Government Center in Fond du Lac.
Pictured Heller with Buechel at the August 2015 ribbon cutting for the new north entrance to the City County Goverment Center. Picture courtesy Steve Hinkley.
Heller Served Country And Community
Former Fond du Lac Police Chief Mel Heller served his country and his community for more than 60 years. Heller passed away over the weekend. One of his favorite stories was how he lied about being older so he could serve during World War II. He was serving in the Philippines under General Douglas MacArthur and was among those waiting offshore to invade Japan when the atomic bombs were dropped. At the end of the war he was still in the army when at the age of 19 he helped reorganize Japan’s police forces. From 1949 to 1990 he was with the Fond du Lac Police Department and retired as police chief. Former Police Chief Tony Barthuly served under him. He says Heller came across as strong, but could be compassionate. After retiring he served nearly 20 years as a Fond du Lac County Supervisor. County Executive Al Buechel says Heller was all about doing the right thing. A longtime local mental health advocate there are two Fond du Lac homes, the Heller Houses, named after him that help people living with mental illness gain independence.