Burke Mountain Academy remembers Marty Heib

The BMA Community remembers Marty whom passed away in October 2018

Marty Heib

Finn Gundersen
BMA Headmaster 1984-1999

May 2019
Two of a thousand memories of my best man:
Marty was a builder, and not just of his beautiful, handcrafted and beloved home, that was eventually turned into a school dorm, but a builder of friendships across the Northeast Kingdom community. In the ‘70s, everyone would say we were attached at the hip, and to prove it, we bought identical pickup trucks that differed only by their color, one black, Marty’s, and mine was a dark green. We used them to build our homes. But Marty also used his to help anyone who needed it in the Kingdom. Marty could be found, almost every day at some time, talking with Henry and Virginia Greer, at their gas station on the corner in East Burke. The Greer’s were the center of Burke Town life: Virginia drove the school bus, Henry repaired everyone’s car, truck, tractor, bailer, BMA vans, and the fire truck (he was captain of the Burke volunteer fire department). Marty could not help Henry enough. In the morning Marty would say, “we need both trucks today.” We would haul hay for a local farmer, or firewood for Henry’s garage (entirely heated by wood), or manure from Ford Hubbard’s farm for the school garden. Marty could not sit still he needed to move, to talk, to help.

Montreal was the site for the 1976 Summer Olympics. I was in between US Ski Team camps, so I stayed with Marty and helped him convert his attached woodshed into another room (my room in the end). While watching the opening ceremony, we looked at each other and said let’s go. We had no tickets, no place to stay, and no real plan of what we wanted to see. At the last moment, I grabbed two of my US Ski Team uniforms, a few radios and we headed north.  We scalped a few tickets to men’s gymnastics, women’s volleyball, and few other events I can’t remember. One afternoon, we decided to go to rowing but no tickets were available. We donned the uniforms (lots of USA flags, red and blue colors, and covered up anything that said US Ski Team. We turned our radios on, found the athlete/coaches’ entrance, and I said Marty, “just start talking when you approach security, find a big group, look busy and keep walking.” We had hung some colored straps around our necks that looked like credentials but were not. I made it through but Marty slowed, became red-faced, hesitated, made eye contact with a policeman and choked. Fortunately, Marty was not arrested, but pictures were taken and that was the end of our Olympic adventure. All the way home Marty could not stop talking about how he had convinced security that he was not a threat, just desperate to see the event, and how much he loved Canada from just across the border in Vermont. I can still see his red frightened face when I turned to see if he made it through – we laughed our way back to the Kingdom, marveling at our good fortune.

Jenny Frutchy
Cambridge, MA
BMA’s first art teacher, a faculty member from 1976 to 1979

From her eulogy at Marty’s memorial service:

You all may be wondering why I am speaking about Marty, so there is likely a lot you may not know about how well I knew Marty.  The Heibs actually lived a block away from me growing up in Elmira, New York. In fact, one of my sisters dated Dan, my oldest sister had a crush on his brother, Mike in grade school, and my own brother played little league baseball with Marty and golfed with Mike as well.  We all skied at Greek Peak together, where the Heib’s were legendary for their perfectly executed vadel turns back in the day, and there are plenty of people here who associate Marty and his brothers, father, and mother with Greek Peak – the Bruces, Bugliones, Millers,  Hazlehursts, Fleckensteins, and Dorwarts, to name a few.  His mother wasn’t a skier but worked in the ski shop making sure her kids looked as good as they skied.

So it didn’t surprise me when I came to Burke for an interview in 1976, that Warren told me that Marty Heib worked for Burke – alas, an old friend  who rather than interview me, quickly told me that I needed to give all these kids at Burke something or other to do than sharpen their skis in downtime.  Marty helped build the art room I oversaw, and while he finished it in the nick of time before the school year began, I did manage to help shovel the sawdust out of the space.  Marty helped build Burke, literally and figuratively.  Mike Schoenfeld, who could not be here today reminded me how much of Burke Marty helped build – not just the Heib house, but additions to the Frazier House, and the Woods House. He was basically a jack of all trades – a very useful talent at Burke.  More than once, Mike recalls breaking down on a highway in a notorious Burke vehicle called the Partridge Family Bus, stranded yet once again, when Marty always seemed to know how to fix things: crankshafts, engines and runaway wheels!  Mike also says he is the one guy who slept with Marty- having to share a bed in a crowded room in Stowe…and neither of them slept a wink, just needled each other with child-like humor all night long.

Marty taught many Burkies to wield a hammer. I remember when Steve Jackson walked into my apartment one afternoon.  He’d been chopping wood or sawing something, and um, missed.  Marty told him to ask me to take him to the MDs in Lyndonville, as Jackson stood there in total deadpan, and asked me, “Gee Frutch, could I get a ride to Lyndonville, I sort of cut off the tip of my finger.”  I took a quick glance as he held a piece of his finger in a napkin and off we went. You learn from your mistakes at Burke…

Since I was responsible for a good percentage of the photos for the BMA yearbook, including that typical day in the life of Marty that was posted on Facebook, I have a few treasures.  Photos of Marty as Santa at the annual Christmas party, alas with Tommy the cook on his lap opening her gift from his sack.  Marty overseeing a soccer game, and one of my favorites is a photo of the Frazier House, with a 20-foot banner that we had painted to welcome Marty home after his accident…The size of this shows just how much we all loved Marty.

And throughout my life, I kept having chance encounters with Marty.  When my kids were little, we were visiting a friend nearby and skied Berkshire East one day, when who called me from across the lodge “FROOOOCH!” there trooping his kids to the slopes…and then again at a few Burke events or weddings over the years, and then just a few years ago at Warren’s memorial when we once again recounted our years at Burke, as well as our childhoods, and took pride in comparing notes about our own young families.

But here is a story I haven’t told before.  My father died at Thanksgiving during my second year at Burke.  He was only 53 years old.  Marty was the one person at Burke who had actually known my father well, and Marty provided me with the comfort and solace I needed.  Burke in all its youthful vigor was not a place for the emotions associated with death.  Every time I saw Marty, there was a look of sympathy, no words needed, he just knew the loss I suffered, and now I know the loss of this great friend.

An additional testimonial by William L. Farrell: