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Published: Monday, 2/26/2007

Farmer turned later to furniture-making

BRYAN - Kenneth L. Heffelfinger, a farmer who had worked in area elevators and factories before starting his own tiny furniture-making and lumber operation in retirement, died Thursday in Hillside Country Living near Bryan.

He was 88 and his health had declined over the past six years, in part because he suffered from Parkinson's disease and diabetes, his daughter-in-law Karen Heffelfinger said.

Mr. Heffelfinger raised corn, soybeans, and wheat on 80 acres in Williams County for about 25 years. Early on, he milked a small herd of dairy cows and raised some hogs as well.

He retired from Countrymark elevator in 1985 and started Craftsman Lumber as a hobby, turning out dozens of pieces of furniture as well as smaller items.

He had been employed at area elevators for years, mixing livestock feed, delivering fertilizer, and unloading grain. Before Countrymark, which was called Landmark much of the time he was there, he was employed at Bryan Elevator and Thaman-Fox Elevator.

While he was at Bryan and Thaman-Fox, his wife, Mary, was employed in the elevator offices as a bookkeeper. They married in 1942. Mr. Heffelfinger graduated from Hicksville High School in 1937.

He was born in DeKalb County, Ind., but grew up on a farm north of Hicksville, the oldest of three sons born to Henry and Pearl Heffelfinger.

As a young man, he drove a milk truck and was employed as a welder. Later, between stints at farm elevators, he was employed at Edgerton Lumber Co.

Some of his happiest times were in Arizona, where he and his wife spent their winters from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s. He raised roses there, just as he had in Williams County, as well as a variety of citrus trees and cacti.

"That was the best 10 years of their lives," his daughter-in-law said.

Mr. Heffelfinger enjoyed shooting snapshots of his roses as well as scenery from his travels.

Surviving are his wife, Mary; sons, Michael, Richard, and John; daughter, Sue Bowman; brothers, Wendell and Darrell; nine grandchildren; a step-granddaughter; and six great-grandchildren.

The funeral will begin at 11 a.m. today in Krill Funeral Home, Bryan. The family suggests tributes to Melbern United Methodist Church.

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