Heeman's
20422 Nissouri Rd.
Thorndale, ON
N0M 2P0 Get directions to Heeman's.

Notice of Retirement: Bill Heeman

Bill Heeman: father, founder
1933 - 2017

After a lifetime apprenticeship working in the field and greenhouses, Bill Heeman has been upgraded to head grower in Heaven. He passed away surrounded by his loving family on June 28th in his 84th year.

Bill grew up as Willibrodus in Uithorn, Holland and on one fateful day biked over to a neighbouring town for a dance where he met Susan. After a short courtship, Bill bought two tickets to Canada and proposed marriage to Susan and the rest of their life together here was a long and beautiful honeymoon.

After pit stops first in London, then Toronto and Alexandria, Bill and Susan settled just east of London on a farm with a cow and small berry patch. A mechanic by trade with no experience in farming, Bill threw himself into growing strawberries. When Susan pestered him to build a greenhouse like what she grew up with in Holland, Bill caved and built a greenhouse but he’d have the last laugh building more and more over the years until Susan told him he’d built enough.

A born entrepreneur, driven to always try to innovate and do things better, Bill was fiercely competitive and instilled many important lessons in his family and staff who worked for him will never forget, lessons we’ve engrained in our culture and will hold dear after his passing. Things like people should never have to wait to pay you, never put off to tomorrow what you can do today, and (amazingly for Dutchman) provide customers value and never be too expensive.

Bill served as the conscience of Heeman’s, always adding keen insights and helping guide our journey under his watchful eye. Whether it was walking the berry fields and always telling us to pick more or checking to make sure plants were transplanted properly and we had enough patio pots on hand for sale in the summer.

Notorious for his unflappable work ethic and innovative ‘there has to be a better way’ attitude, it was obvious to everyone who knew him that Bill loved what he did. Right to the last day he watered his plants and was potting up his flower boxes. He even found time to check on the potting of purple fountain grass and made sure it was spaced on the bench correctly. His commitment to his work was infectious and we’re committed to ensuring his passion will live on in the business he created.

As a regular at the Berry Beanery for coffee at 10am and 3pm with Susan, one of the highlights of his days was connecting with customers whom he’d formed tight bonds with over coffee, reminiscing and staying connected.

A memorial wall will be installed by the Berry Beanery temporarily where anyone wishing to share a favourite memory or pay their respects are welcome to write a note on a petal and stick it on our mural wall. Bill spent a lifetime growing friendships and flowers so we can’t think of a better way to display the impact he’s had on those who knew and respected him than to create a wall of colourful thought flowers.

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