Inducted 2014. Heilmann will be remembered by many for his 39 years in education at Quincy Notre Dame, but few remember how it all started. The Chicago native came to Quincy after graduating from Northern Illinois. He took his first job at Catholic Boys High School as an English teacher and a football coach.
“I came here in 1973 and didn’t know a single person. I fell in love with it on day one and kept that respect for it ever since,” Heilmann said.
He coached football and taught English for nine years before becoming an assistant principal — a position he held for 13 years. In 1995, Heilmann became the first lay principal in the 128-year history of the Quincy’s only Catholic high school, a position he held for 17 years until his retirement in 2012.
After he left coaching, Heilmann still attended thousands of games, whether he was running down the football sideline escorting a Raider into the end zone or standing at the end of the bench during a basketball game while keeping a watchful eye on the student section.
Heilmann said when he retired that he had seen the QND family pull together many times over the years, particularly when a student or staff member had died. His tenure also saw numerous moments of joy and celebration. He said QND sports teams won “a minimum of 13” state championships during his years, and QND students earned countless academic honors while bringing home meritorious awards for music and art. Many of the 19 QND students who have entered the West Point military academy did so during Heilmann’s career.
The Quincy Catholic Elementary Schools Foundation honored Heilmann in 2013 by as a Friend of Catholic Education.
Heilmann and his wife, Judy, have four adult children and seven grandchildren. He is now the director of off-campus studies and student teaching in the education department at Quincy University.