Kesling Park lane now bears Dean Heise’s name

Dean Heise (left) holds his dedication plaque along with current parks Director Mark Schreiber. Mayor Mark Krentz is at right.

Dean talks to the crowd as Mark listens.

WNLP story and photos by Bob Wellinski

The winding road through Kesling Park now officially has a name: Dean Heise Parkway. 

After a dedication ceremony Friday night, Aug. 9, 2019, the road the shoots east off of A Street into Kesling Park now bears the name of the man who was instrumental in developing the park.

LaPorte Mayor Mark Krentz bestowed the honor during a joint dedication ceremony with the re-opening of Fort La Play Porte before a couple hundred guests, including several of Heise’s family members. 

“It’s an honor for me to take part in this dedication for Dean Heise tonight. I’ve seen him do the work over many years,” said Mayor Krentz. Among other mayors, Heise served during the administration of the late Carl Krentz, Mark’s father. “His heart and soul has been in it all the way and it is with a great deal of honor that I am able to dedicate the Dean Heise Parkway this evening.” 

Heise served with the LaPorte City Park Department for 41 years, including over 30 years as superintendent. He retired in 2014 as director of the Civic Auditorium.

“When I signed on with the city back in ’73, I never imagined that this would be happening to me. It’s such a wonderful thing,” said Heise, pausing when he became choked up with emotions. “Nobody ever expected it; obviously I didn’t.”

Mark Schreiber, current parks superintendent, said, “The naming of Dean Heise Parkway is really something we’ve thought about for a number of years, a way to honor Dean for his years of service to the park department. It seemed like the perfect thing to do. You drive through here and these are a lot of Dean’s crowning achievements. The ball diamonds, tennis courts, Fort La Play Porte. It really pleases us to do this as a department.” 

Schreiber referred to Kesling Park as a Chamber of Commerce park because of its importance in drawing families and businesses. 

Heise jokingly hinted at his age when he commented that he and some of his pals can remember when Kesling Park wasn’t on the map. 

“We did this park in the mid to late ‘70’s and completed it in the early ‘80’s. Most of the generations of LaPorte don’t know it wasn’t here at some point,” Heise pointed out.

“It’s become such a tremendous recreational package for LaPorte with something for everyone. That’s the way it was designed when we started meeting with the Kesling family. It’s become a treasure for LaPorte. It’s a representation of our community in almost every way — not to mention it’s surrounded by our school corporation with their athletic facilities,” said Heise. “I’m so proud of Kesling Park and I’m so proud that we’ve seen this thing from start to finish — and of course, it’s never over.”

A humbled Heise told the crowd he owed his success to the people in his life.

“One thing that made this all possible is the support groups that I’ve had for years, including the number one support group that I have is standing right behind me, especially my wife, Sharon,  who’s been my bride for 48 years, along with my daughters, Julie, Leslie and Kristine and 9 grandchildren,” Heise confessed.

“My wife and my daughters have had to listen to my nonsense when I came home from work. They’re all going to heaven because they’ve lived their life in hell with me.”

But it was work and dedication Heise and his other “family” achieved that led to many of LaPorte’s “crown jewels,” including creation of Kesling Park and improvements to the Stone Lake beach house, Civic Auditorium and to neighborhood parks through a $2 million bond.

That other family included the five mayors he worked under, the city council members and the LaPorte City Park Board.

“It’s a special time,” Heise reiterated as he closed with words of wisdom. “One of the basic things that I learned in life a long time ago is to say thank you — I appreciate it a lot.”

4 Responses to “Kesling Park lane now bears Dean Heise’s name”

  1. Tom Dorman

    Aug 13. 2019

    Dean lived next door to my parents on Second St. He was always so kind and friendly. He is a true example of the high quality of people that La Porte has created. The house that built us.

    Reply to this comment
  2. john zakes

    Aug 13. 2019

    well deserved honor for a great guy and good friend. and Dean-you aren’t THAT old 🙂

    Reply to this comment
  3. Mike Kellems

    Aug 13. 2019

    My first job, at the ripe age of 15, was working for the Parks Department with Dean as my boss. Dean was great to work for and I always found him supportive and kind. This is a well deserved honor… congratulations Boss!

    Reply to this comment
  4. James Heise

    Aug 15. 2019

    Congratulations Cousin Dean!!!

    Uncle Ralph, Aunt Jean and David would have been so proud, as we all are.

    Regards,

    Cousin Jim

    Reply to this comment

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