James E. Heald

MILFORD – James E. Heald, 89, lifelong resident of Milford, NH, died on January 16, 2021 at his home.

He was born in Nashua, NH on January 21, 1931, a son of Hermann L. and Mary A. (Broughton) Heald. He was raised and educated in Milford and graduated from Milford High School, Class of 1949. Throughout high school, he was Captain of the Cross Country and Track Team.

Jim enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1951 and was engaged in active ground combat on the frontlines in Korea as an anti-tank assault infantryman serving with Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. He later served as the liaison to the 293rd Quarter Master Graves Registration Company at the 8th Army base in Yong Dong Po, South Korea, where he worked identifying and fingerprinting American soldiers and allied forces killed in Korea. Jim also participated in the search and recovery missions of those fallen soldiers. In remembering his service, Jim often reflected upon the mission to recover the bodies of forty Marines, returning from R&R who were killed when their plane crashed into the side of a mountain. Jim’s experience in the Marine Corps played a very important role in his life. It taught him the value of discipline, teamwork, and investing in a cause larger than himself. He earned the rank of Sergeant and was honorably discharged in 1953.

He returned to the States in 1953 and continued his education at New England Institute of Anatomy, Sanitary Science and Embalming in Boston, MA, and graduated with honors in 1955. He began his career in funeral service with Leon C. Tucker, and L. Paul Ecklund Funeral Homes and later was associated with Boutwell Mortuary, Concord, NH.

Jim went to work for John T. Smith & Son Funeral Home in Milford, NH and in 1960, he formed a partnership with L. Keeley Smith and the name was changed to Smith & Heald Funeral Home. In 1972, his brother, Richard B. Heald, joined him at the funeral home.

Jim was a former member of the New Hampshire Funeral Directors Association, National Funeral Directors Association, Associated Funeral Directors Association and the Order of the Golden Rule. He retired in 1995 and the business is currently owned and operated by his two daughters, Deborah Quinlan and Gretchen Heald-Brooks, and his grandson, Patrick Brooks.

He served as treasurer of the former Souhegan Nursing Association and New Hampshire Funeral Directors Association. In addition, he was a member of the Harley Sanford Post #4368 VFW, Ricciardi Hartshorn Post #23 American Legion, Custos Morum Lodge – IOOF and former member of the Milford Lions Club. He was a life member of the 1st Marine Division. Jim was co-chair of the thought, planning and completion of the Korean War Memorial located on Elm Street, Milford. He had a strong faith and at the time of his death, was a longtime member of the First Congregational Church of Milford where he taught Sunday School, served as a deacon and on the Investment Committee.

He was honored to have served the families in Milford and the surrounding towns throughout his years both in funeral service and as a charter member of the Milford Ambulance Service.

Jim was a man of faith, who loved his family, his country and the USMC.

He was predeceased by two brothers, Richard B. Heald and John A. Heald; two sisters, Suzanne Floris and Mary Lou Cassarino.

Family members include his high school sweetheart and wife with whom he would have celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary on January 20th, Kathryn L. (Howe) Heald of Milford; seven children and their spouses, Thomas and Carol Heald of Strafford, NH, Deborah and Michael Quinlan of Bedford, NH, Laurie and Mario Palmeri of Shoreview, MN, Susan and Joseph Pestana of Bedford, NH, David and Sheila Heald of Manchester, NH, Gretchen Heald-Brooks and Jeffrey Brooks of Milford, NH, Jonathan and Kristen Heald of Bedford, NH; Lovingly known as Bup to his 19 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren, whom he was so proud of; also survived by six sisters-in-law and two brothers-in-law; many nieces and nephews.

Visiting hours are on Thursday, January 21st from 2:00-4:00 pm in the Smith & Heald Funeral Home, 63 Elm Street, Milford. Funeral services are private. Burial with military honors will be in Riverside Cemetery, Milford. Those attending are asked to adhere to current guidelines by wearing a mask and observing social distancing. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made The First Congregational Church of Milford, P.O. Box 188, Milford, NH 03055. Arrangements are in the care of his daughters. To share a memory or offer a condolence, please go to www.smith-heald.com.