Edward Thomas “Red” Heinen, 82, of Eatonton, Georgia, died suddenly Friday, December 22, 2006 at his residence on Lake Oconee just three weeks after the death of Catherine “Cathy” Lynch Heinen, his wife of fifty-seven years. He was a veteran of World War II. Born in Fowler, Indiana, on October 18, 1924, he was the son of the late John Michael “Johnie” Heinen and the late Ella Catherine McGuire. The grandson of Elias Heinen, a Civil War veteran who served in the 61st Illinois Infantry, Red grew up the youngest of five children. After his mother died when he was four years old, his father’s older sister, the late Marie Margareth Heinen, helped to raise Red along with his older brothers, the late John Michael Heinen Jr., and the late James Daniel Heinen, and his older sisters, Winifred “Winnie” Mary Heinen Bower, and Genevieve “Ginger” Heinen Swoyer.
After graduating from Fowler High School in 1942, Red enlisted in the US Navy V-12 program, which was designed to select and train naval officers. As part of this training, he attended DePauw University, Greencastle, IN, Midshipmen School, Columbia University, New York, NY and the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Training Center, Melville, RI. After additional training in Miami, FL, he was deployed to the Pacific Theater in 1945. During the war, he served as Executive Officer aboard PT Boats 318 and 583 in the Philippines. He also served as Commanding Officer of APc 42 after the war’s end. Following his discharge in 1946, he earned his B.A. degree in Zoology from Indiana University in 1948.
While in Miami Beach, FL in 1945, prior to his deployment, he met Cathy Lynch on a blind date. Their marriage on November 26, 1949 began an enduring love story that would take them all over the world during the next 57 years. Red began his career in 1948 as an aquatic biologist with the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission where he developed a deep appreciation of the environment and eventually achieved the title of Chief of Fisheries, overseeing the state’s fisheries program. They moved to Africa in 1961, where Red served as an aquatic consultant with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), helping the country of Sudan develop a program to effectively control and prevent water hyacinths from negatively impacting navigation, health and fisheries along the Nile River. USAID next moved Heinen to Accra, Ghana, in 1964 where his consultant expertise was used to prevent potential negative environmental impacts associated with construction of the Volta River Dam.
In 1965, the family moved to Atlanta, GA where Red joined the US Department of Interior’s Bureau of Outdoor Recreation as a water resource manager, performing comprehensive river basin studies throughout the southeastern US. He then moved to the US Federal Water Quality Administration/Water Pollution Control Administration in 1968, serving as a water resource manager reviewing water basin plans of both federal agencies and states across the southeastern US.
During this time, as public awareness of the many threats to the environment was just beginning, Red played a significant part in protecting the nation’s wetlands and influencing environmental policies. These efforts resulted in the halting or changing of numerous projects threatening wetlands, including a project to build an airport in the Everglades. Red was part of a team of environmentalists that prepared a 1969 report for the Department of the Interior, “An Environmental Impact of The Big Cypress Swamp Jetport,” which concluded that “development of the proposed jetport and its attendant facilities…will inexorably destroy the South Florida ecosystem and thus the Everglades National Park.” These efforts successfully prevented the construction of the airport, proving to be an important precedent in the ongoing battle to preserve the Everglades as well as wetlands across the country.
In 1970, the family moved to Orlando, Florida where Red joined the newly formed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as State Liaison Officer, establishing close coordination between the federal pollution control agency and the state as well as developing a river-basin approach to water pollution control.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas, author of “The Everglades, River of Grass” and founder of Florida’s environmental movement, attended Red’s 1974 presentation of a paper on the impacts of a proposed nuclear power plant on area streams, calling his “one of the few sensible voices raised in a presentation completely biased toward the selling of a nuclear reactor to Orange County.”
Returning to Atlanta in 1974, Red “played an important and leading role in the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s use of its Clean Water Act authority to protect valuable wetland areas in the EPA’s Region IV, consisting of the eight states of NC, SC, GA, FL, AL, MS, TN & KY-an area containing almost 40% of the nation’s wetlands,” according to Paul Traina, EPA’s former Director of the Enforcement Division of Region IV.
When Congress enacted the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, (more commonly referred to as the Clean Water Act), it intended this new law “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters.” For more than a dozen years, Red directly managed Region IV’s efforts to prevent avoidable destruction of Southeastern wetland areas having significant ecological values – for example, as breeding areas and habitat for fish and other wildlife and as filters for toxic runoff created by storm events. Under his leadership, initial proposals of many private and public activities that might have filled in important wetland areas (thereby eliminating their unique wetland ecological values) became actual wetland success stories. The expertise and dedication to wetland protection possessed by Red and the scientists he hired and supervised were influential in EPA regulatory actions involving wetlands across the Nation. He received EPA’s Silver Medal for Superior Service in 1978 for his “meritorious service in the development and implementation of programs in EPA’s Region IV for the protection and propagation of the Nation’s wetland treasures.” In 1980, following extensive studies, public education, and forceful advocacy by Red and his staff, EPA made the first use ever of its Clean Water Act authority to “veto” a project which EPA determined to involve unacceptable wetlands destruction in Florida. During subsequent years, either the actual or threatened use of that “404(c)” authority became a powerful regulatory tool for protecting vital wetland areas throughout the Southeast and in other parts of the Nation. By the time Red retired at the end of 1987, then-President George H. W. Bush had declared that it was national policy to insure that there would be “no net loss” of America’s wetlands.
In 1987, Red received the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Gold Medal Distinguished Career Award “in recognition of 30 years of Federal service in the administration of regulatory programs designed to preserve our Nation’s environment.”
He was also honored for his pioneering work with the establishment of a national award, the Edward T. “Red” Heinen Award, presented annually to the person in EPA's regional wetlands program who best exemplifies the high standards and personal dedication to wetlands protection that characterized Red’s years with EPA.
After his retirement in 1987, Red and Cathy moved to their home on Lake Oconee where he enjoyed hunting, fishing and playing cards with his family. They spent their final years traveling and enjoying their six grandchildren. They were members of Christ Our King and Savior Catholic Church in Greensboro.
“I’m sure glad you got to see me,” was Red’s frequent tongue-in-cheek farewell to friends and family.
We truly are glad we got to see him.
He is survived by daughter Katy Heinen Tindall, Morristown, TN; son Matthew Paul Heinen and daughter-in-law Caroline Freytag Heinen, Olathe, KS; sister, Winifred Heinen Bower (Mrs. William Bower), Indianapolis, IN; sister Genevieve Heinen Swoyer and brother-in-law Leonard F. Swoyer, Grand Blanc, MI; sister-in-law Dorothy Gretencord Heinen (Mrs. James D. Heinen), Fowler, IN; brother-in-law Harold John Lynch Jr., MD and sister-in-law Kathleen Nolan Lynch, Savannah, GA; six grandchildren: Allyson Tindall, Knoxville, TN; Patricia Tindall, Lawrence, KS; Paige Tindall, Morristown, TN; Mitchell Heinen, Madison Heinen, and Joseph Heinen, all of Olathe, KS; and many nieces, nephews, and other relatives as well as countless friends. His son, William Barry Heinen in 1953 and his son-in-law, James Raymond Tindall, MD in 1999, preceded him in death.
A memorial gathering of friends and associates is planned for Thursday, February 1st at Manuel’s Tavern, 602 North Highland Ave. Atlanta, GA. For details, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in memory of Edward T. Heinen to Friends of the Everglades, www.everglades.org, or to All Saints’ Episcopal School, 3275 Maple Valley Road, Morristown, TN 37813.
McCommons Funeral Home, 109 W. Broad St., Greensboro, GA, (706) 453-2626, is in charge of arrangements. Visit them at www.mccommonsfuneralhome.com to sign the online guest register.