, Newburyport, MA

March 5, 2013

Elsie M. Heckman, 91

ORANGE, MAss. — Elsie M. (Strong) Heckman, 91, formerly of East River Street, died on Saturday evening, March 2, 2013 at Quabbin Valley Healthcare in Athol.

Born on September 27, 1921 in Baldwinville, she was a daughter of Ealon and Olive (Higgins) Strong and grew up in Baldwinville and attended schools in Winchendon. On November 27, 1944, Elsie enlisted into the U.S. Army during World War II and served as an orthopedic nurse, as well as the head nurse for treating the women soldiers who survived the Bataan death march. She was honorably discharged on August 9, 1946.

Elsie married Robert J. Heckman on August 14, 1947 at the former St. Mary’s Parish on School Street in Orange, and they enjoyed 41 years together until his death on December 31, 1988.

Elsie started her civilian nursing career at the former Fleetwood Nursing Home in Athol and then went to work at Athol Memorial Hospital when it opened in 1950 and worked there for over 20 years, retiring from there in 1975. Following her retirement from Athol Memorial, she returned to the Fleetwood Nursing Home part time. Elsie enjoyed knitting, classical music, watching football and golf, especially Tiger Woods playing, but most of all she treasured her time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Survivors include her daughters, Cynthia Hamel and her husband, Philip, of Amesbury, and Andrea Heckman Young and her husband, Joe, of Orange; grandchildren, Stephanie Helsing, John Mulica, Steven Mulica, Tylar Hamel, Troy Hamel, Jennifer Monty, Sarrah Young, and Rebekah Murphy; great-grandchildren, Spencer Helsing, Nathaniel Helsing, Alia Helsing, David Mulica, Filip Mulica, Chole Monty, Mason Monty, and Tucker Murphy; a brother, Stewart Strong of Monette, Missouri; a sister, Mabel Harrell of Monette, Mo.; aunts, Charlotte Hildreth of Winchendon and Bertha Higgins of Amherst. Besides her parents and husband, Elsie was predeceased by brothers, Robert Strong and Buster.

ARRANGEMENTS: Calling hours will be Thursday, March 7, 2013 from 10 a.m. until noon followed by interment in Calvary Cemetery, Wisdom Way, Greenfield, at 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations are suggested to Hazel’s Community Center, 15 West Main Street, Orange, MA 01364

Witty’s Funeral Home, 158 South Main Street, Orange, is directing the arrangements. You may offer your sympathy or find directions online at