In a memorial service Thursday, friends, colleagues and family gathered at the MU School of Law to remember and celebrate the life of Tim Heinsz, former dean of the school,who died July 2 of heart disease.
A portrait of Heinsz — wearing his signature bow tie — stood at the front of the room. As people gathered, a slideshow of images from Heinsz’s life played across a screen, including photos of his daughters, his wife, his granddaughter and other people who had figured prominently in his 56 years. There was even a picture from the “First Annual Tim Heinsz Bow Tie Day,” held Sept. 1. Heinsz was dean from 1988 to 2001.
Larry Dessem, current dean of the law school, opened the service.
“We’re all here today because Tim touched our lives, and now we’re here to celebrate his,” Dessem said.
Then, one by one, friends and colleagues rose to share their memories.
UM system President Elson Floyd described Heinsz as “a man small in frame, big in heart, gigantic in passion.”
Brady Deaton, MU interim chancellor, recalled crossing paths with Heinsz on his morning runs. Heinsz, with a quick step and a broad smile, sported shorts in even the coldest weather, he said.
“I’m heartened every time I pass that spot,” Deaton said.
Stories of Heinsz’s athletic prowess and good humor abounded.
“I played tennis with Tim. Tim was a good tennis player,” said Mike Middleton, MU deputy chancellor. “I played poker with Tim. Tim was a fair poker player.”
Rose Porter, dean of the MU School of Nursing, added her own recollection of Tim: the former dean in a conga line, wearing sunglasses and singing, “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
Heinsz’s good friend and colleague Bob Bailey spoke of Heinsz’s thoughtfulness. Bailey’s birthday was the day after Heinsz died. On that day, Bailey said he received an e-mail birthday card from Heinsz, programmed to arrive that day.
When Heinsz was asked to donate books to a law library in Cambodia, he arranged for 17 crates to be sent, Bailey said. The Cambodians named the library for Heinsz, Bailey said.
Bailey said Heinsz also had a more impish side to him. “Deep down inside, Tim really was Bart Simpson,” he said.
As each speaker gave tribute to Heinsz’s life, a portrait emerged of a bow-tie-wearing man devoted to his family, to his profession and to finding joy in life.