Chester Harlis Heien, 99, passed away October 5, 2018 at the Village Health Care Center in Missoula just shy of his 100th birthday.
Chester was born November 19,1918, in Geyser, Montana during the Spanish Influenza to Albert and Gladys (McGuire) Heien. He grew up on the family farm 18 miles west of Brady, Montana and graduated High School from Brady in 1937.
In 1943, Chester enlisted in the Army Air Corps and took Officer and Flight School. He was soon stationed in Foggia, Italy with the 1st Fighter Corps, 94th Squadron. He flew several different aircraft in his career but spent most of his hours in a P-38 Fighter. He flew a total of 56 missions over North Africa, Italy, and the Balkans. Captain Heien was mission leader into Ploiesti oil fields. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross from Maj. Gen. Nathan F. Twining and 5 Bronze Stars. Upon returning to the United States he became an Army Air Corps flight instructor.
In January of 1945 Chester and Viola L. Zimbelman were married in Santa Monica, California. Chester attended watch repair school and returned to Conrad, Montana to work at the Pondera Drug Store. In 1953, Chester, Viola and their two daughters moved to the farm three miles northwest of Brady. Chester was an exemplary farmer who enjoyed golfing, Bridge, bowling and playing the stock market. He served on the Pondera County Weed board, Brady Methodist Church board and helped build the Brady Community Hall. He was an active member of the Conrad Masonic Lodge. Like most farmers he spent his summers in the fields and his winters repairing equipment and remodeling the family farmhouse. Viola always said Chester could do any project she put her mind to!
Chester was preceded in death by his wife Viola, his parents Albert and Gladys, brother Donald, sister Doris Heien Iverson, and many close friends and relatives.
Chester is survived by his daughters, Susan (Rod) Snyder, Shelley (Terry) Will. He is survived by his grandsons Nathan (Jessica) Snyder, Aaron (Jenny) Snyder, Landon (Kara) Snyder, Tyler (Sarah) Will and Cale (Sarah) Will. He is also survived by great-grand children: Jasmine, Willy and Tinsleigh Snyder, Madeline, Naomi and Jackson Snyder, Athena and Aria Snyder, Avery Hafer, Dmetri Will, Nichole Martens and Nora Will.
Pondera Funeral Home, 302 South Main, Conrad, MT, 59425 is in charge of arrangements. Public viewing will be Thursday, October 11, 2018, 5 to 7:00 PM. Services will be Friday, October 12, 2018, at 1:00 PM at the Pondera Funeral Home. Graveside services are at the Conrad Cemetery followed by a reception at the Brady Community Hall.
Memorials may be made to the Conrad Dollars for Scholars.