Obituary of Heino Heinsoo
Heino Heinsoo, born a twin on August 26, 1929 just outside of Tallinn, Estonia; died July 23, 2023 in Springfield, Oregon. Heino grew up with his twin sister, Oie, brother Jaan and sister Liis. During WWII, the Soviet army swept through Estonia with cruel intentions. They killed several members of his extended family and sent Heino’s father to a Siberian concentration camp where he died sometime in the late 1940s. The family fled to Germany where they lived through the war with a kind German family, the Tiemanns, who remain friends today. Heino was a very good student and excelled at languages. After the war, he became the official interpreter of the British-run refugee camp the family then lived in, translating German, English, Estonian, French and some Russian.
Thanks to his academic skills, Heino earned a Woodrow Wilson college scholarship to study at Lawrence University in Appleton Wisconsin. When he graduated, he had another academic scholarship to obtain a graduate degree in Canada. He was detained, however, at the border and drafted into the US Army. This began a long and distinguished military career, with postings in the American south, at West Point Military Academy, the Pentagon, many places in Germany, and in Vietnam. He worked in artillery, intelligence, language instruction, and commanded nuclear missile bases.
Heino met his love, Anne Shafer, when she interviewed him for the Lawrence University alumni magazine. They married in 1963 and had two children, Robert and Eric. The family of four moved with Heino when they could, living in many US states and abroad in Germany. When Heino retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1976, the family settled in Springfield, Oregon. Both Heino and Anne were devout Christians, but they often found it hard to agree on a church. In Springfield, they found a church they both agreed on. They joined Springfield Lutheran Church, where Heino served in a variety of church council positions for many years.
In the late 1970s, Heino took classes towards a graduate degree in German history at the University of Oregon. Ultimately, he found that his studies had been superseded by another scholar’s work. Instead of revamping his thesis, he put aside his plans to become a history professor and settled into retirement with Anne until she died in 2009.
Heino was a lifelong learner. In his 80s, he was working on learning Swedish and Finnish and tinkering with his rusty French. He was an avid reader in multiple languages and watched the news in Estonian and German every day. His family is grateful that thanks to his caretakers, including Lisa Serafin and Deb Barratt, along with regular check-ins from his sons, he was able to live and die in his own home.
Heino is survived by his son Eric Heinsoo and Eric’s wife Brenda and children Morgan, Brady, Liviciana, and Nico; and his son Robert and his wife Lisa. Heino will be reunited with his wife Anne, sisters Oie and Liis, brother Jaan and granddaughter Hallie in their heavenly home.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Heino Heinsoo, please visit Tribute Store