Ronald David Heard, 72, died peacefully surrounded by his wife and children at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center Tuesday, December 23, 2014 after waging a long, courageous battle fighting the effects of his exposure to Agent Orange.
Born February 17, 1942 in Minneapolis, Minnesota to Walter and Marie Heard, Ron spent his childhood in Bird Island, Minnesota. Following graduation from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, Ron joined the US Army where he served as a pilot doing two tours of duty in Germany and two tours in Vietnam.
During his second tour of duty in Germany, Ron met and married his wife of 43 years, Sandra, who at that time was teaching in the US Department of Defense School System.
Following his service in the military, Ron and his family spent several years in Johnson City, Tennessee before moving to Raleigh, North Carolina where he developed and sold several small businesses.
Ron was an active member of St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church where he served for many years as a Eucheristic Minister and active volunteer at the Catholic Parish Outreach.
Ron was preceded in death by his parents, Walter and Marie Heard. He is survived by his wife, Sandra Heard, his son, Christopher Heard and wife, Cara, his daughter, Meredith D. Jenkins and husband Thomas Jenkins, and five grandchildren, Ashley Heard, Conner Heard, William Jenkins, Samuel Jenkins and Bennett Jenkins, all of Raleigh, North Carolina. He is also survived by his sister Lynn Chalupsky and husband, Gary of Fullerton, California, along with his nephew, Peter Chalupsky, and neices Bridget Naso and Sara Poore and their families.
Heartfelt thanks is given to Ron’s special caregivers, Susan Meares, Annette Mills, and Cindy Henderson who became like members of our family during the early stages of Ron’s illness, and to Dorothy McNeal, Ron’s very special friend and caregiver during the final stages of his life.
Our deepest appreciation and thanks is also given to the CLC staff within the Durham VA Medical Center for their support and quality care these last two years.
Ron was a dedicated Christian, loving husband, a proud and supportive father and grandfather, a patriotic American and a loyal friend who found great joy in being there for others.
A funeral mass will be held Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at 11:00 AM preceded by a visitation at 10:00 AM at St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church, 5801 Fall of Neuse Road, Raleigh, North Carolina, followed by military honors. Private burial will be held at a later date at the National Cemetery in Salisbury, North Carolina.
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