Father W. Charles Heiser, SJ, died Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, in St. Louis. He was 95 years old, a Jesuit for 77 years and a priest for 64 years.
Remembered by his fellow Jesuits as a deeply spiritual man, Fr. Heiser’s life was celebrated in a Mass of Christian Burial on Tuesday, Sept. 26, at St. Francis Xavier College Church on Lindell Blvd. in St. Louis. The visitation was immediately beforehand in the same location. He was buried at Calvary Cemetery on Wednesday, Sept. 27.
He was born in Milwaukee on March 16, 1922, to the late Walter and Lauretta Kopmeier Heiser. His brother John and sister Ruth Zinkl also preceded him in death. He is survived by his brother William.
He entered the Society at St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant, Mo., on September 1, 1940. Following First Vows, he studied philosophy at Saint Louis University, earning bachelor’s degrees in Latin, Greek and English and a master’s and licentiate in Latin and Greek.
He taught for three years at St. Louis University High (1947-50) before studying theology at St. Mary’s College in St. Marys, Kansas, earning the licentiate in sacred theology in 1955.
He was ordained on June 17, 1953, at St Mary’s College. He pronounced his final vows on Feb. 3, 1958, also in St. Marys.
He earned a master’s degree in library science from Catholic University in Washington, DC, in 1959.
Father Heiser’s lifelong ministry was as librarian, beginning at the Jesuit theologate at St. Mary’s (1955-67). When that course of studies was moved to Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Fr. Heiser ensured the continued excellence of the Divinity Library. Once the Saint Louis University Divinity School closed, he became a librarian at Saint Louis University, and continued until he retired in 2011.
Father Heiser was regarded as high skilled and dedicated to the work of library science. Indeed, many found that he was an even more valuable resource than the books that he purchased and catalogued over the years.
When he celebrated his fiftieth anniversary as a Jesuit, Fr. General Peter Hans Kolvenbach wrote, “In both your professional expertise and in your gifts of personality and spirit you have gifted your brother Jesuits in many diverse ways.”