Willis “Willy” R. Heupel passed on August 5, 2021, surrounded by love at Peace Hospice. Willy was born July 21, 1934, on his family farm in Medina, North Dakota. Willy attended Medina schools, participating in band, playing basketball, joking, and maybe doing as little schoolwork, and as much socializing as possible. He graduated at age 17, enrolled in the Army when he turned 18 and then went home to tell his mother. He served during the Korean Conflict. His military service was always a matter of pride for him and the source of many of his stories.
Willy attended Valley City State Teacher’s College in Valley City, North Dakota. He met his future wife, Syneva Nordquist, when he asked her if she would like to buy him a cup of coffee. They married May 31, 1958. Willy and Syneva, both teachers, moved to Great Falls, MT, in 1959. Willy started his Great Falls teaching career at Lewis and Clark Elementary School. He was asked to be a school principal after two years of teaching. He received his Master’s Degree of Education in Administration attending summer school at the University of Montana. He served as principal of Washington, Largent, Russell, Mountain View, Sacajawea, Chief Joseph, and Longfellow Schools. He opened Mountain View School in 1970, as an open concept school, which he learned about, advocated for, and brought back to his colleagues. Willy received many awards and recognition as an educator dedicated to being a positive influence on elementary students in Montana. He retired in June of 1992.
Willy was an active member of First Congregational Church and was a past member of the Optimist and Elks Clubs. Willy loved to chat and tell jokes. He volunteered for the Great Falls Visitor’s Center to share his love of Great Falls. He was so interested in where people were from and where they were going. To read the complete obituary and share condolences, visit the Schnider Funeral Home website.