Melvin E. “Chief” Heller, a resident of St. Francis Terrace, age 90, passed away on April 1, 2016. He was born on July 18, 1925 in Hamilton Hill, the son of Mabel Bertz (Heller) Flitcroft and Hugo Emil Heller. After attending public school in the city of Fond du Lac, he graduated from L.P. Goodrich High School in 1943. He enlisted in the U.S. Army immediately after graduation undergoing basic training at Ft. Riley, Kansas, and then later joined the First Cavalry Division out of Ft. Hood, Texas. He earned the rank of Sergeant in the 8th Regiment, 2nd Brigade, Troop E and served under General Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines and in the Army of Occupation in Japan during World War II. He was discharged from the army in 1946 having earned numerous medals and honors for his service. Upon leaving the Army, he returned to Fond du Lac and worked for three years for the Soo Line Railroad.
Mel Heller joined the Fond du Lac Police Department September 1, 1949 as a motorcycle patrolman after attending the Northwestern University Traffic Institute in Evanston, Illinois. He was promoted to the rank of Detective in 1963. After attending the F.B.I. Academy in Washington D.C. as a part of a nationwide training program in 1966, he was promoted to the rank of Captain in the same year, and then Acting Chief of Police in 1975. He was appointed as the permanent Chief of Police in 1976 and remained in that position until his retirement on February1, 1990, completing over 40 years of service to the Police Department.
Following his retirement, he served as a court bailiff from 1990-92 until he was asked to run for an open position of the County Board of Supervisors. After his election in 1992, he continued to serve on the Board until 2012. He also served as a volunteer for numerous organizations and committees in the city, including the Advocap Board of Directors, the Department of Social Services, the Senior Center, and the Alice Barry Board of Directors. He remained active in the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Elks Club, and the Eagles Club. In 2014, he was honored for his advocacy of the mentally ill with the naming of two houses in the city for those individuals with mental health issues transitioning back into daily life – The Heller Houses, located on Seventh Street.
Mel met his future wife, Arlene B. Stangfield in 1946 while she was in nursing school at St. Agnes Hospital, having been introduced by their mutual friend Jane Behlen during his recovery from illness during his time overseas. They were married in 1950 in Hortonville, Wisconsin, and together they raised a family of four sons in Fond du Lac.
Mel Heller is survived by his sons Jeffrey S. Heller (Karen) of Katy, Texas; David A. Heller of San Antonio, Texas, and James E. Heller (Colleen Shea) of Fond du Lac; his sister, Ruth L. Heller of Fond du Lac; his cousin, Aloha Fields of Fond du Lac; and his two sisters-in-law, Joyce Stangfield of Hortonville, Wisconsin, and Helen Baehman of Hortonville, Wisconsin; five grandchildren, and one great-grand child. He is preceded in death by his wife Arlene (2004), and eldest son Mark (2010).
A public memorial service will take place at 11:00 am on Saturday, April 9, 2016 at Hope Lutheran Church, 260 Vincent Street in Fond du Lac.
The family requests that memorials be directed to the Robert E. Berry House, 178 6th Street, Fond du Lac, WI 54935, attention: The Heller Houses.
Additional information and guest book may be found at www.ueckerwitt.com.