Memorial Day is observed to honor and pay tribute to the men and women who have fought for our country and have sadly passed on. One such hero is Lynn Heckman.
Lynn passed away April of last year at the age of 81 but his memory still lives on with the people he touched along the way, especially with his wife Judy and his grandson Bryan.
Lynn and Judy met in Boys Town, Nebraska at a school dance in high school, a memory Judy will never forget even after all these years.
“I was actually going with a different boy,” she said. “But then he said he didn’t want to dance with me anymore so then Lynn swooped in and said ‘well I want to dance with you,’ so we started dancing and hitting it off from there.”
Lynn soon graduated from high school and joined the Marines after serving two year in his school’s ROTC program. Lynn joined the Marines for a reason, but unfortunately his dream never saw the light of day.
“Lynn wanted to join the Marines so he could go see the world, but he couldn’t do that because they found out that he was an excellent welder,” Judy said. “He had to repair the planes from the Vietnam War.”
Despite that, Lynn still enjoyed his time serving his country.
“He loved his job, he loved the marines,” Judy said.
Although he did end up loving his job, the his start to the joining the Marines got off to a rocky start when he found out the Army had listed him as AWOL.
“He kept telling ‘why am I not getting extra pay for the other two years of service I had?,'” Judy explained. “And then they started investigating and called him back into his office and said ‘well you’re AWOL from the Army.’ The Army forgot to cross him over from the Marines. It was a huge mistake on their part.”
Lynn left the military in 1961, just shortly before the U.S. entered the Vietnam War. Lynn and Judy got married and moved to California before moving back to Judy’s home in Omaha where Lynn started working as a salesman for Hudson’s Foods. It was then that the two got their invite to come to Hope.
“Hudson said he would move us down to Hope, Arkansas so he flew us down, we took a look around and were like ‘alright, we’ll move to Hope,'” Judy said.
But shortly after moving down, Hudson’s Foods were bought out by Tyson’s so Lynn quit and started working at a repair shop. However, after the owner started having heart problems in 1985, Lynn & Judy bought it from him and started the business they still own to this day: Hope Outdoor Power & Equipment on 3rd street.
“We built this business from nothing,” Judy said. “We didn’t even have one shelf of parts when we started. My husband’s motto was ‘if you don’t have it, you can’t sell it.'”
Even while building a new business from the ground up, Judy says that Lynn still always found a way to give back to the community.
“We’d have people that would come in here saying they don’t have any money and he would give them money or give them whatever they needed,” she said. “He was very loving and very kind.”
Lynn’s grandson, Bryan Crow, couldn’t agree more.
“He took a ton of people in and helped a ton of people on their feet,” he said. “People that other folks may not even give a chance. He was an awesome person.”
Bryan’s mom, Lynn’s and Judy’s daughter, divorced her husband very early into Bryan’s childhood so he never got to grow up with a father, and that’s where Lynn came in to take Bryan under his wing.
“We always went fishing and he taught me everything I know today,” Bryan said. “He was basically my dad because I didn’t have a dad.”
This tight relationship was very important to Lynn, mainly because he never got to have it during his childhood.
“He grew up in Boys Town without a father,” Judy said. “But he was still all about family because he didn’t really have one.”
Through the years, Bryan has nothing but fond memories for his grandfather.
“He was very jovial,” he said. “He liked to make jokes and he was very kindhearted. He was just a kidder. He’d give you a hard time as soon as you’d come through the door, in a fun way though. A guy at church he’d always pop his suspenders every Sunday. He was like a child at heart almost.”
Though we use this day to remember Lynn’s service to his country, it’s equally as important to remember Lynn’s service to his family and the community around him, a man that has touched the lives of many.