The Journey of My Life
Keith A. Hiebert
July 22, 1944 â October 18, 2018
Keith Arnold Hiebert was born in Langdon, ND on July 22, 1944 to Vivian Beaulieu and Emil Hiebert. Keith and family moved to Thief River Falls, MN where he attended St. Bernard grade school and graduated high school in 1962. After high school he attended 2 years of drafting school, but quickly realized that a âdesk jobâ was not for him. Keith was an altar boy at St. Bernardâs back when masses were celebrated in Latin.
Keith was the second of five children. His siblings included older sister Janet, younger sisters Larae and Candace, and younger brother Lynn, who was tragically killed in Vietnam in 1968. His father Emil, passed away when Keith was 11 years old. His mother Vivian died at the age of 92. Keith would spend most summers working (and playing) at his Grandparents farm in North Dakota. He spoke fondly of those days over the years.
Throughout his adult life Keith would frequently tell stories, and sometimes a few white lies. For stories that were actually true, he would prefix the upcoming tale with, âTrue Story â¦â.
True Story â¦ at the ripe age of about 9 years old, Keith was entering the church with his father when he spotted a fetching, well-endowed young lady. He subsequently ran into a stack of metal chairs knocking them over and causing quite a commotion.
Keith met his future wife, Darlene Meredith Cronk, in Bemidji, MN which is where Darlene grew up. They were married on October 3, 1964 and had two children, Catherine Lyn and Steven Keith. The family moved to White Bear Lake and Keith graduated from the MN State Patrol training school on February 26, 1971. He proudly, and humbly, wore badge #441. He rose to the rank of Sergeant and always remembered that his role as a state trooper was to serve and protect citizens on MN highways, which he did for 28 years, retiring at the age of 55.
True Story â¦ Due to his less-than-stellar driving record Keith was required to wait 3+ years before being accepted to the State Patrol.
True Story â¦ Keith would frequently take holiday shifts so his fellow troopers could enjoy the holidays, and for a little extra cash. He never issued a traffic violation on holidays or someoneâs birthday, giving them a verbal warning and then wishing them a special holiday or birthday.
With the family now in WBL, they would frequently (about every other weekend) drive to Bemidji or Thief River Falls to visit family. Those trips brought fond memories for Cathy and Steve. Keith and Darlene were also very engaged in their kidsâ activities, frequently playing âeverlasting pitcher or catcherâ for a neighbor pick-up ball game. While he was somewhat strict as a father, Keith âmellowedâ over the years. Cathy frequently told her kids in a humorous way âThis is not the man who raised me!â
Keith was blessed with six grandchildren: Eric, Kevin, Kaitlyn, Casie, Lindsey, and Jessica, and they were blessed to have Keith as a grandpa. Keith adores his grandchildren and he and Darlene spent as much time as they could with them. You would be hard-pressed to find a more encouraging and loving grandpa â as evidenced from the many pictures we have with Keith and his grandchildren.
True Story â¦ Whenever one of the grandkids was returning from college or a longer stay away from home it would take less than an hour before he was ringing the doorbell and looking for a hug.
Keith was well known for wearing shorts year-round. Unless he had a formal event, he almost always wore shorts, whether it was watching a hockey game or blowing snow.
True Story â¦ at one of his grandkids hockey games one of their teammates exclaimed âlook at the crazy old guy wearing shortsâ, to which, without hesitation, Kevin proudly responded âThatâs my Grandpa!â
Keith loved nature and the outdoors. Whether it was walking, biking, camping, fishing, hunting, or just watching birds outside his window, Keith was at peace when he was enjoying nature. He and Darlene made frequent camping trips to their favorite state park, Savannah Portage State Park, and subsequently did the same to Crex Meadows in Grantsburg, WI. They also enjoyed visiting Tamarack Nature Center near their home and frequently brought the grandkids where they learned about, and grew to appreciate, the outdoors. Another favorite day trip was to make an âeagle runâ to Red Wing along the Mississippi River. It never got old for Keith to be amazed at the beauty of a soaring Bald Eagle or a Common Loon on the lake. Keith also made frequent day trips to Fergus Falls to visit family friend Roy Jorgenson. Roy was a special person in Keithâs life after his father died.
True Story â¦ While not always able to remember who was visiting, Roy would always recognize Keithâs voice immediately.
As a self-proclaimed âanti-socialâ person who frequently tried to convince himself that âI donât like peopleâ, it was clear this was far from the truth. Keith would start up a conversation with the grocery store clerk or someone in line somewhere and then later share a story of that personâs life or how there was a remote connection to his.
Darlene passed at the early age of 64 on September 23, 2008 due to complications from Alzheimerâs. Prior to her passing, Keith showed his love and giving spirit by taking care of Darlene in every way necessary. They continued to take the beloved car trips to Crex Meadows. Several years after Darleneâs passing, Keith would visit Cerenity Care Center in WBL, where Darlene spent her last days, and would bring flowers, candies, or just stop by to chat with the staff.
As we reflect on Keithâs life, one word stands out â âGIVINGâ. Whether it was cutting the grass of a neighbor, bringing the mailman a cold bottle of water on a hot day, making chocolate chip cookies, pickle rollups, fresh bread, chicken wings, or barbeque spare ribs for the grandkids, or delivering a fresh apple pie to an old friend, there are numerous examples of Keithâs giving spirit, the least of which is the service he provided as a State Trooper. While we cannot list all the examples, those of you reading this probably know more than even his family is aware of. We will, and we know you will, remember Keith as the giving person he was.
True Story â¦ on daily bike rides, Keith always carried a pouch of treats for the dogs on his route.
True Story â¦ when Cathy and Ron were at his house after Keith had his heart failure, one of the neighbors immediately stopped by to inquire about his status and made it clear that âKeith is revered in this neighborhoodâ. That sentiment has been repeated several times now by neighbors.
Keithâs heart stopped early Monday morning October 15 on the way home from his daily bike ride â he was a block from home. A neighbor called 911 and heroically performed CPR which ultimately gave Keith the opportunity to fight another day. Our family greatly appreciates this as it is the same thing Keith would have done. After inserting two stents at United Hospital, Keith was transferred to Abbott Northwestern Hospital where his heart recovered remarkably well, with no real damage to other organs. He was on sedatives the entire time and in no pain. On Thursday Oct 18, it was clear that, after being removed from all sedatives, his brain was not responding. Several members of his immediate family were at his side when he passed at about 20:20 that evening. It is fitting that Keith donated whatever he could after his passing. We hope that whomever is lucky enough to receive his beautiful blue eyes is able to see the world as Keith did - they donât realize how lucky they are.
True Story â¦ Steve was talking to a family friend this week, she commented that when she first met Keith she was enamored with his bright blue eyes and that is the one thing she will always remember.
We will remember Keith as a giving and loving husband, father, grandpa, brother, uncle, nephew, work partner, and friend. We will remember how he was always smiling and never complained about anything. We can all learn from Keith and take the time to enjoy nature and maybe take a few seconds to say a kind word or do a good deed for someone in need.
Rest in Peace, Keith, and thank you for allowing us to be a part of your lifeâs journey.
Badge #441 is now off duty.
OBITUARY AS PUBLISHED IN THE ST. PAUL PAPER:
Beloved Grandpa & Dad
Age 74 of White Bear Lake
Joined Darlene on October 18, 2018. Preceded in death by wife Darlene and brother Lynn. Survived by children Cathy Schulze (Ron) and Steve (Kelsey); grandchildren Eric, Kevin, Kaitlyn, Casie, Lindsey & Jessica; siblings Janet Johnston (Doug), Larae Kaushagen (Luke) and Candace Thompson (Calvin); special friend Judy; nieces, nephews, extended family and friends. Retired MN State Trooper after 28 years of service. Gathering of family and friends Friday, October 26th from 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm at MUELLER MEMORIAL, 4738 Bald Eagle Avenue, White Bear Lake with a prayer service at 6:30 pm. Memorials preferred in lieu of flowers, to the American Heart Association or the Alzheimerâs Association.