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Bemidji native, retired brigadier general, loses cancer battle

FAIRFAX, Va. – Retired U.S. Army Brigadier General William Heilman, a Bemidji native, died earlier this month after a year-long battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 62.

According to an obituary published late last week in the Washington Post, Heilman died Oct. 13 at his home in Fairfax.

Heilman graduated from Bemidji High School in 1968.

He and his wife, Mary Dolores Peitz, were married 38 years. The couple had three children.

The obituary said Heilman was the son of the late Filmore Herman Heilman and Nina Henson Heilman of Bemidji.

He graduated from West Point and was commissioned as a field artillery officer in 1973 before a long, distinguished career in the military.

“Bill faced his death with the same courage and steadfast faith that marked his life,” the obituary read. “The Cadet Prayer was his credo, and he always sought ‘the harder right instead of the easier wrong.’”

Scott and Karen Dirkx of Mankato left an entry on the Post’s online guestbook.

“He was a great man, husband and father,” it reads. “We will remember our visit to the beach.”

Heilman was the president for a homeowner’s association and a Minnesota Vikings fan, the Post’s obituary reads.

He was survived by his immediate family and a sister, Judy Heilman Konop of Rosemont.

A memorial service was held Monday in Centreville, Va., and interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery at a future date.