Former Quincy High School principal to receive Dream Big Award during Friday night gala

Dick Heitholt

Dick Heitholt, former Quincy High School principal | Photo courtesy of Quincy Public Schools Foundation

QUINCY – Longtime Quincy High School principal Dick Heitholt will be posthumously recognized as the recipient of the 2022 Dream Big Award during the Night to Dream Big Gala on Friday, Nov. 4 at the Ambiance.

The Night to Dream Big Gala is the largest fundraising event in the Quincy Public Schools Foundation’s annual campaign, which was launched Sept. 14 and runs through Jan. 13. The fundraising goal is $200,000. This year’s Dream Big campaign is chaired by QHS alumni Todd and Michelle Moore from the Class of 1982.

The event, which begins at 6 p.m., offers a cocktail hour, dinner, live and silent auction, cash raffle sponsored by Architechnics and musical entertainment by the local band Gypsy Tango Foxtrot.

The Dream Big Award is presented to people who have shown an outstanding level of support for the Quincy Public Schools.

Born in 1927 in Hannibal, Mo., Heitholt grew up in the Fall Creek area on his family’s farm. He attended the one-room Bluff Hall Grade School, then went to Payson Seymour High School before spending his senior year at Quincy High School, where he graduated in 1945. 

He was a member of the National Honor Society and lettered in football, basketball and track at QHS. The Blue Devils finished 3rd in the 1945 state basketball tournament, with Heitholt named to the all-tournament team. He was later inducted into the Quincy High School Sports Hall of Fame. 

Heitholt met Fern Heimer in 1942 when her family moved to the Payson area, and they were classmates at Seymour High School. They were married on June 22, 1947.

Heitholt was called into the U.S. Navy Reserves one month before graduation from QHS and entered the Navy as Seaman 1/C, assigned to radar technician school at Wright College in Chicago. After World War II ended, he finished his naval duties in Farragut, Idaho, where he played on the basketball and baseball teams.

At the end of his naval tour of duty, Heitholt accepted a basketball scholarship to attend Northwestern University in 1946. After one semester, he returned to Quincy to play basketball and baseball at Quincy College, where he was named to the all-conference team in both sports. He was the first recipient of the Mart Heinen Memorial Student-Athlete Award. He was elected to Who’s Who in American Colleges, and later he was inducted into the Quincy University Sports Hall of Fame.

Heitholt was the principal of Quincy High School for 25 years and was credited for helping to launch “Education by Choice” in Quincy. During his educational career, Heitholt was an active member and office holder in the Illinois Principal Association and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

He was elected to the legislative commission of the Illinois High School Association, where he was an early advocate of expanding athletics for girls. He was one of the original founders of the Western Big 6 Conference and the Quincy Thanksgiving Tournament. He was a member of the National and Illinois Education Associations, Adams County Retired Teachers Association and a past member of the Quincy Rotary Club. In retirement, Heitholt was executive secretary for the Society for Academic Achievement.

Heitholt died in March 2021, shortly after the passing of his wife.

Tickets for the Night to Dream Big Gala are $75/individual and $550/table of eight. A link to purchase the tickets is at qpsfoundation.org. Tickets may be bought by calling the foundation office at 217-228-7112.

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