In memory of
John Arthur Heslip, 88, passed away peacefully on the early afternoon of November 21, 2020 with his loving wife, Marlene Jean Heslip, at his side. John succumbed to dementia with the same grace and elegance that he carried throughout his life. John was born on December 22, 1931 in River Rouge, Michigan to the late Arthur John Heslip and Rosemary Higgins Heslip. He grew up on a dairy farm in Novi, Michigan alongside his eight siblings in a close, loving family. Throughout his childhood, John excelled at sports and lettered in varsity football at Northville High School. After graduation, John attended Michigan State University where he studied Engineering and played for the Michigan State football team. It was also at Michigan State where John met the love of his life, Marlene Jean Heslip, on a blind date at a college dance. Before John completed his college studies, he was drafted to serve in the Army Corps of Engineers during the Korean Conflict. He and Marlene married on July 12, 1952 and immediately relocated to Fort Leonardwood, Missouri where John was stationed for his service from 1952-54. John and Marlene eventually settled in Plymouth, Michigan where they raised their five children, Mark, Susan, Steven, John Jr. and Elizabeth. John was the epitome of a gentleman. He was gracious, kind and optimistic. He had a way of bringing out the best in others. Having grown up on a dairy farm, John learned the importance of resilience and perseverance, and these qualities proved beneficial as John became progressively successful in his lifelong career in the concrete masonry industry. John started in the masonry trade as a brick-tender and apprentice bricklayer in Saginaw, Michigan. He then operated his own mason contracting firm from 1957-63 before returning to the Detroit area as a product manager for Huron Cement. John's career took off when he founded and served as Executive Director and President of the Masonry Institute of Michigan from 1969-84. John reached the pinnacle of his professional career when he and Marlene relocated to Herndon, Virginia, where John served as the President of the National Concrete Masonry Association, an international trade association, from 1984-95. John loved leading and inspiring people, and working with his member-clients, many of whom became his close friends. John was also elected to honorary membership in the Detroit chapter of the American Institute of Architects. John was regarded as one of the nation's foremost authorities on masonry design, detailing and construction. John lectured on the subject at colleges and universities throughout the country and was a speaker at several national seminars. John was also a member of the Engineering Society of Detroit, the Detroit Rotary Club and the American Society of Association Executives. He was also active in the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) beginning in 1965, receiving the Award of Merit and the honorary title Fellow from ASTM. John served as a member of the ASTM Board of Directors. While John recognized the value and demands of his successful career, he was equally devoted to his family. His sense of humor, strength, warmth and love made him a rock to his siblings, wife and kids. John served as a Boy Scout leader for his sons, enjoyed traveling, spent hours working in his yard and hosted friends for bridge. John had a particular love for taking his family and closest friends to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for vacations. After a professional lifetime working in the concrete masonry industry, John retired and enjoyed every minute of it! He and Marlene settled in Williamsburg, Virginia. In retirement, they met and enjoyed the company of more wonderful friends in the Governor's Land community. John had time to play golf and bridge, served on the Board of Directors for Governor's Land Country Club and volunteered as a docent for the 1607 Jamestown Island Archaeological excavation. John was also a natural at playing Santa Claus for Governor's Club each year as he delighted the children (and adults!) with his jolly smile and twinkly eyes. In 2013, John and Marlene moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina where they resided at Carol Woods Retirement Community. John was preceded in death by his parents Arthur and Rosemary Heslip; his brothers James, William, Thomas, and Robert Heslip; his sons Mark John and Steven James Heslip. John is survived by his loving wife, Marlene Jean Heslip to whom they enjoyed sixty-eight years of marriage; his three children Susan Jean Klein of Dallas, Texas; John Arthur Heslip, Jr. of Grand Rapids, Michigan and Elizabeth Heslip Schoening of Cary, North Carolina; his eight grandchildren and nine great-grand children; siblings Patrick, Richard, Michael and Mary; and many cherished nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends. A small gathering of celebration of life will occur at a future date. In lieu of flowers, the family invites donations to be made to the Alzheimers Association on line at act.alz.org or to the charity of their choosing.
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