HAYS - Paul Michael Heck, 26, died on Friday, March 5, 2004, while being emergency airlifted to a Great Falls hospital as a result of injuries he sustained in a car accident returning from work.
A wake will begin at 5 p.m. today and rosary will be recited at 7 p.m. in Saint Paul's Recreation Center. A funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday in Saint Paul's
Recreation Center with burial following at the family cemetery near Three Buttes with military honors.
Paul was born Dec. 2, 1977, in Olympia, Wash., to Kim Heck and Robert Tolletg. He spent his younger childhood with both his mother in Sacramento, Calif., and his grandparents Stan and Sally Mueller in Jackson, Calif. As a teenager, he met his special adopted brother Jon Powderface in Sacramento. At a special ceremony at the cultural center there, Paul and Jon took each other as brothers and Paul was adopted into Jon's family. He then moved to the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation with his adopted mother, Marilyn Gone, and was also raised by his adopted grandmother, Bertha Snow.
As a young boy, he was naturally drawn to the Gros Ventre culture and became extremely dedicated to watching, listening and learning all that he could from his uncles, Ray Gone, Howard Gone and Wayne Azure about the traditional ways of all Native American cultures. He was a sundancer, and partook in sweats and peyote meetings. He enjoyed beading, dancing at powwows, and making his own traditional dance regalia.
In 1997, he graduated from Hays/Lodge Pole High School. That same year he enlisted in the U.S. Army. After graduating from infantry training in Fort Benning, Ga., he served two years with the 25th Infantry Division, 11 Bravo light infantry Tropical Lightning in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. As a U.S. Army Scout sniper, he served in various operations throughout the South Pacific and earned air assault wings. He was honorably discharged in 1999 and returned to his home in Fort Belknap, where he became an active participant in various veterans activities, including honor guard and burial details for other veterans within the community.
Paul lived with his wife of five years, Delina Cuts The Rope, their son, Paul Mitchell Doney, and daughter, Ithay Marie Heck. While attending Fort Belknap College, Paul was hand picked to participate in the Speaking White Clay program to work with elders to help preserve the Gros Ventre language. He also was a tutor in the summer schools at both Hays/Lodge Pole and Harlem to help youths receive credits to graduate. His nature was that of someone who had seen and felt real hardship, but who never used it as an excuse to hold him back. He was proud of the traditional strength he had captured from the Gros Ventre people and humbly let it shine through his heart. He expressed how to live in harmony by his own life.
Paul was a butcher at the Little Rockies Meat Packing Company in Malta.
He is survived by his wife, Delina Cuts The Rope, of Hays; son, Paul Mitchel Doney, of Hays; baby daughter, Ithay Marie Heck, of Hays; twin sons, Braden and Aarone Cook of Billings; mothers, Marilyn Gone of Fort Belknap and Kim Heck of Sacramento, Calif.; grandparents, Bertha Snow of Fort Belknap, Stan and Sally Mueller of Jackson, Calif.; brothers, Greg Powderface of Phoenix, Ariz., Jonathan Powderface of Havre, John Reed of Sacramento, Calif., Billy Suite of California; sisters, Darla Lankford of Harlem; Amy Heck of Sacramento, Calif., and Alicia Myrik Werk of Hays; and many aunts, uncles, cousins and adopted aunts, uncles, and cousin.
Arrangements are by Edwards Funeral Home of Chinook.