Our school was named after an educator that made a difference in Nevada. Heckethorn Elementary School opened in the Fall of 2001 for the 2001-2002 school year. We are grateful that our school history is forever linked to its namesake, Mr. Howard ("Hecky") E. Heckethorn. Mr. Heckethorn passed away on March 31, 2007, at the age of 85. For many years, prior to his passing, on any given day, Mr. Heckethorn could be found volunteering and visiting with students at our school. Therefore, it is fitting to share the history of our school by sharing the biography of our school's namesake.
Howard E. Heckethorn was born in 1922 in St. George, Utah. He moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1930. He started school at the Old Westside School and graduated from Las Vegas Fifth Street Grammar School. The students in the grammar school had a little different experience than most children. In May of 1934, when Howard was in fifth grade, the entire school burned down. During the time the school was being rebuilt, he and his classmates attended school in tents for two years. He entered the eighth grade in a new building, and his class was the first to graduate from the new school in 1937. He graduated from Las Vegas High School in 1941. Howard Heckethorn entered the University of Nevada, Reno in 1941. He later enlisted in the Army during World War II where he served for three years. After being honorably discharged, he returned to Las Vegas and worked with the Nellis Fire Department until he re-entered the University of Nevada, Reno and graduated in 1951. He received his Master of Education from UNR in 1964.
While attending school here in Las Vegas, he was quite a student leader. He was Sophomore Class President and Studentbody President of Las Vegas High School. At UNR, he was also Sophomore Class President. Mr. Heckethorn was published in both high school and college Who's Who in America. In 1941, he won five state Golden Glove championships in the lightweight boxing division. In college, he advanced to the finals in the Golden Glove Tournament in 1942 and 1943. He lettered two years in boxing and was named the best university boxer. He was president of the Young Democrats and a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity at the University of Nevada, Reno.
In 1951, Mr. Heckethorn started teaching for the Clark County School District at Nellis Air Force Base School. The next year, he taught at North 9th Street School. For the next 25 years, he taught fifth grade at Red Rock Elementary School. He retired after 27 years of service teaching children in the classroom. During those many years, he influenced hundreds of students and later on, their children. He participated in community activities such as coaching Little League games and tutoring neighborhood children in their elementary school subjects. Other affiliations, clubs, and organizations included, but were not limited to a life member of the Elks Lodge #1468, PTA, honorary member of the Las Vegas Track Club and Western High School's Cross Country and Track teams.
Mr. Heckethorn came from a pioneer family. He was a third-generation resident of Las Vegas. He had four children; and they were all born at Southern Nevada Memorial Hospital, now known as University Medical Center. Three of his children live and work in Las Vegas, and one lives in Sparks, Nevada. Eight of his grandchildren were born and reside in Las Vegas, which makes them fifth-generation Las Vegans. Two grandchildren were born in Reno, Nevada and reside there today. Mr. Heckethorn was married to Sarah Haley, the love of his life, for 46 years. She is from Houston, Texas. She was the loving supporter of him and the entire Heckethorn Family.
Howard Heckethorn was highly respected by thousands of Southern Nevadans who grew up with him or were touched by his service as an outstanding educator. All that knew him recognized his dedication to education.
As we work together, in our learning community, we were grateful for the friendship and support of Mr. Heckethorn and the continued support from his delightful family. We know that it takes dedication and time to build friendships and a community bond. We will continue to build toward a bright future. We want to thank the Heckethorn family for all they have done to contribute to our positive school climate. The Heckethorn family always worked at "Blazing A Trail Towards Excellence." Thank you, Mr. Heckethorn, for setting a good example of what a trailblazer should be!