James Donald Heintz


James Donald Heintz completed his well-lived life on July 24, 2022.

HEINTZ—James Donald Heintz completed his well-lived life on July 24, 2022, right here in Florence in the home he shared for 23 years with his beloved wife Suzanne.

James was the personification of the phrase “a friend to all.” From the waiter in the restaurant to the kid on the street with a dog, he would ask your name (and the name of the dog) and extract as much information about your life as you were willing to share.

James was retired from his professional pursuits of carpenter, substance abuse counselor, contractor, policeman, landscape designer, realtor and owner/chef of a restaurant in Junction City, but he always continued his life-long interest in painting, woodworking and writing. One of his paintings of the Siuslaw River bridge hangs in the hallway at PeaceHealth Peace Harbor Hospital.

His book “Apple Box Boy” is a chronicle of his formative years growing up in the apple growing area around Yakima, Wash. His book “How Did You Find Me?” traces the journey he took with his mother as she slid into Alzheimer's.

Of all the hats that James wore during his busy life, the hats that said DAD and GRANDPA were his favorites. His daughter Jamie is a high school teacher in Eugene and his son Jordan is a fourth grade teacher in Portland. His stepson Jason Mann is the chef at a restaurant in Eugene.

Jamie’s son Skylar follows his grandfather’s interest in remodeling and restoring living spaces. He is also an excellent musician who fronts the band Common Koi based in Eugene. Jordan’s son Parker is in middle school and his daughter Piper is in elementary school. 

James had a bigger-than-life personality and his playful side enjoyed a good romp with his kids and grandkids. But he was also the family protector and provider. When Jordan asked for a scooter for his 10th birthday, James built one for him. And when Jamie wanted a convertible to impress her teenage friends, James bought a used sports car and cut the top off.

For more than 20 years, James cooked up a big pot of soup on Monday nights and invited people to the group he called Soup’s On. After a hearty bowl of soup and a bit of socializing, the discussion would turn to spiritual principles and the application of those principles in day to day life. He also facilitated a men’s group where men could talk about their feelings and experiences — but they were prohibited from mentioning cars or sports.

James followed the Baha’i Faith and a highlight of his life included a pilgrimage with Suzanne to Haifa, Israel, to visit the world headquarters in 2002. 

A Celebration of Life was held for James at Burns Riverside Chapel on July 29. Interment followed at Yachats Memorial Cemetery on Aug. 5, where he was laid to rest in a casket he built and painted himself. The sides were painted a green grass color and the top featured a number of big yellow and white sunflowers.

James was always exuberant, always enthusiastic and always curious. He will be missed by everyone who knew him and he will be remembered for his spirit of playfulness balanced by responsibility. 

His wife Suzanne extends heartfelt gratitude for all the love and support from this community during this time of transition.

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