Father Charles Heskamp, 1927-2021
Father Charles Heskamp SVD, whose work formed a generation of Divine Word students, died at Techny on Jan. 28 at the age of 94.
Among his students, he counted future professors, provincials and a Vatican ambassador.
“Father Heskamp was one of the most popular of all our teachers at the minor seminary at Perrysburg [Ohio] and for good reason,” Father Dan Bauer SVD, professor of English at Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan. “He was a role model for friendliness, patience and painstaking exactitude in the effort to learn a bit of a second language. I’ve taught English to second language learners in Taiwan for more than 30 years and have done my best to emulate him.
“He was a man of dignity, who walked in a way that befit someone who respected himself and treated others as more important than he was,” said Father Bauer, who was a student in Father Heskamp’s Latin class. “He also had a dry humor—a very attractive, kind sense of laughter at the ordinary foibles of the human condition. He had a chuckle I'll never forget.”
Born in Cincinnati in 1927, Charles Heskamp was the fourth and youngest of Joseph and Clara (nee Kruessel) Heskamp’s four children. After graduating from Elder High School in 1945, he worked at Aufdemkampe’s Hardware in downtown Cincinnati. When he was not drafted to serve in World War II, he took this as a sign that he was being called by God to live a life of service.
In 1946, he joined the Society of the Divine Word at Conesus, N.Y. Upon completing his bachelor’s degree at Divine Word Seminary in Bordentown, N.J., he professed religious vows in 1950. In 1958, he was ordained to the priesthood.
Even though he requested to be assigned overseas after his priestly ordination, he cheerfully accepted his assignment to remain in the United States. During his academic career, Father Heskamp served as principal of Divine Word seminaries in Perrysburg; East Troy, Wis.; and Bordentown. He left a lasting legacy when he oversaw the accreditation process of Divine Word seminary at Perrysburg in the 1960s.
In addition to teaching and administrative work, he also served as pastor of St. Joseph in Maurice, La., and Good Shepherd in Glenville, W.Va.
Father Heskamp held a master’s degree in Catholic Social Teaching from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and a master’s degree in Education in School Management from Xavier University in Cincinnati.
He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings: Father Joseph Heskamp, Marcella Heskamp and Sister Miriam Clare Heskamp OSF.
A wake and funeral Mass was held in the Divine Word Residence Chapel at Techny on Feb. 3, followed by burial at St. Mary’s Cemetery. Due to COVID restrictions, attendance was limited.
Memorial donations can be made in the name of Father Charles Heskamp in lieu of flowers. They may be made for the care of retired and infirmed missionaries and sent to The Rector, Divine Word Residence, 1901 Waukegan Road, P.O. Box 6000, Techny, IL 60082-6000.