Judge Gerald Heaney: 'A life well-lived'
The honorable Gerald W. Heaney was eulogized today for a life of service, love and faith. "Your Honor, we thank you for a life well-lived," a tearful University of Minnesota Duluth Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin said during her eulogy. Several hund...
The honorable Gerald W. Heaney was eulogized today for a life of service, love and faith.
"Your Honor, we thank you for a life well-lived," a tearful University of Minnesota Duluth Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin said during her eulogy.
Several hundred people attended this morning's Mass of Christian burial at Duluth's Cathedral of our Lady of the Rosary for Heaney, who died on June 22 at age 92. Outside the cathedral, members of the Minnesota Patriot Guard stood at attention with U.S. flags in parallel facing lines. Inside, mourners included Congressman Jim Oberstar and former vice president Walter Mondale, who joined in the 1966 nomination of Heaney to a federal judgeship.
President and Michelle Obama sent a letter of condolence that Martin read during her eulogy.
Heaney leaves us with "a world made better by his service," President Obama wrote, referring to Heaney's time as an Army Ranger during World War II.
"His commitment to our country continued through his many decades as a federal judge," President Obama wrote. "His legacy as a champion for equal justice under law will live on in the hearts of all he touched."
As a labor lawyer in Duluth, Heaney pushed for labor contracts that paid women the same as men. As a U.S. Circuit Court judge he authored or helped write opinions leading to school desegregation. As a political and community activist he helped form the DFL Party and UMD.
"A long life of service is ended," Father Thomas M. Radaich said during his homily. "Our memories of this great man show that God has indeed pitched his tent among us."
Bishop Paul Sirba called Heaney an exceptional man.
"He left a great example," Sirba said.
Martin, who was tapped to lead UMD by a search committee including Heaney, spoke of his humble nature, sense of justice and love of mercy. He was, Martin said, "a man who lived his life so all people could live in a just society."
The mass included lighthearted moments, as when Martin told of how Heaney's wife of 65 years, Eleanor, had the last word when deciding what Heaney would wear when laid to rest.
"The judge is buried in his Vikings polar fleece sweat pants under his robes," Martin said.
And although he is also wearing a UMD hockey jersey "Eleanor got the last laugh and got rid of those Viking pants because I know she wasn't fond of them," Martin concluded to laughter from the mass goers.
Eleanor and more than 20 family members followed Heaney's casket - preceded by eight church officials and six pallbearers - as it was brought to the front of the cathedral to the song "On Eagle's Wings." At the end of the mass, it was removed to the song "America the Beautiful."
During the mass, the casket was covered with a simple white and gray cloth decorated with several white crosses. Outside, the cloth was replaced with an American flag and placed in a hearse. A State Patrol vehicle and several flag-bearing Minnesota Patriot Guard motorcycles led the procession to Calvary Cemetery, where Heaney was buried with military honors.