The Rev. Dr. Russell Gary Heikkila, 87, of Port Orange, FL died June 26, 2019 at Emory L. Bennett Veterans Nursing Facility. Pastor emeritus of the Mission Evangelical Congregational Church in Maynard, MA, the Mission to Grace Church in Gardner, MA and Associate Pastor of the Elm Street Community Church in Fitchburg, MA, Dr. Heikkila also helped establish the Vineyard Christian Church of Rindge, NH.
Born in Trimountain, MI to the late Wallace R. and Agnes (Carlson) Heikkila, Russell attended the public schools of Calumet, MI before continuing his education and receiving several degrees from various schools such as Tennessee Temple University and Triune Biblical University, as well as his Ph.D. from Christian Bible College in Rocky Mount, NC. In addition to his pastoral responsibilities, Dr. Heikkila served in the US Army, and was awarded a Bronze Star during the Korean Conflict. In his civilian life, he served as Chaplain for several district courts, police departments, and hospice organizations in Massachusetts. He was honored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and was presented with the highest award for citizenship within the organization – The Citizenship Medal. This award was never before – nor since – been awarded.
Dr. Heikkila was also an author and speaker, penning several tracts, including his autobiography, “From Hollywood to Calvary”, telling of his journey from Hollywood, CA to begin life as a speaker for the New England Association of Evangelicals. Consistently in demand to speak at colleges, conventions, conferences, and church events both local and internationally, Russell was an individual known for his spiritual insight and charming wit, and was honored to have spoken at the Memorial Service for the renowned Pro Life Crusader, Dr. Mildred Fay Jefferson at the Harvard Memorial Church, Harvard University on Friday, November 26, 2010. He also portrayed the first minister of Gardner, the Rev. Jonathan Osgood, at a cemetery reenactment on June 26th, and again by popular demand on September 26th, celebrating the 250th anniversary (1785-2010) of the founding of the City of Gardner, MA. Russell was also the featured speaker at a Bible conference in Katerini, Greece in July of 2010. He also spoke at the Greek Evangelical Church in Katerini.
Dr. Heikkila is survived by his beloved sister, Janice “Jan” Heikkila of Waukegan, IL and many aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.
On February 24, 2019 Mission Street Congregational Church became the Mission to Grace Church of Gardner. Dr. Heikkila, pastor emeritus, was honored when the church named the fellowship hall: Heikkila Fellowship Hall.
A Private Funeral Service will be held at Shannon Maloney Funeral Home, Port Orange FL, with Rev. Robert Kemp-Baird, pastor of Daytona Beach Drive-In Christian Church officiating. A second funeral service will then take place at Laurium Shining Light Church, 246 Tamarack St., Laurium, MI on July 9, 2019, with visitation from 10:00am to 10:30am, with service starting at 10:30. Burial will follow in the family lot at Mountain View Cemetery, South Range, MI.
An additional memorial service honoring Dr. Heikkila’s life, and glorifying the Lord God Christ whom he served by His mercy and grace, will be held at 10:30 am August 3, 2019 at Mission of Grace Church, 358 Pleasant Street, Gardner, MA with Rev. David Bodanzo and Rev. Dr. Stephen Mayo officiating.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Laurium Shining Light Church, 246 Tamarack St, PO Box 645, Laurium, MI 49913.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Shannon Maloney Funeral Home in Port Orange, FL, (386) 760-9660 in conjunction with Erickson-Crowley-Peterson Funeral Home of Calumet, MI, (906) 337-4600. Online condolences for the family may be left at www.ericksoncrowleypeterson.com