Leaving a legacy

Knowledge, skills in electricity launched school benefactor in career with General Electric

By Deb Hadachek
Telescope editor
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You never know when a skill is going to spark a career. But that’s what happened for John Heller, says his longtime hunting companion, Ken Naysmith of Belleville.

USD 109/Republic County was notified by the Renaissance Administration LLC recently that the district will receive a nearly $80,000 gift from the estate of John and Roma Beth Kelly Heller.  Mrs. Heller died earlier this year in Topeka; her husband died in 2007.

Mrs. Heller was a bookkeeper for Dr. P.L. Beiderwell at his hospital in Belleville, Naysmith says. After a three-year stint in the Navy during World War II, John Heller returned to Belleville to work in his father’s electric shop.

Naysmith said Dr. Beiderwell had obtained a new General Electric X-ray machine for his hospital, but the equipment sat unused for months waiting for a company representative to set it up.

One day Dr. Beiderwell wished he could take an X-ray of a patient he was treating. Mrs. Heller suggested her husband could help.

“John came over to the hospital, looked it over, and wired it up,” Naysmith says.

Eventually, the GE technicians arrived in Belleville to install the X-ray machine, and found it already in use, Naysmith said.

“They wanted to know who set it up,” Naysmith said. “When they found out it was John, they came downtown and offered him a job.” Heller went to work for GE sales and service of Kansas, Naysmith said, a job he held for 35 years.

Heller came to hunt on the Naysmith farm on the Kansas-Nebraska line near Byron every year for 40 years, Naysmith says, which is how he learned the story of Heller’s GE career. He often brought doctors and other medical professionals from Topeka for opening weekend.

Rheumatic fever
In her role working for Dr. Beiderwell, Roma Beth Heller played a part in another memorable event in Naysmith’s life. When he was 5 and his sister, Alene was two, she came down with rheumatic fever. Dr. Beiderwell nursed her back to health over many months.

“Of course, my parents had no insurance, limited income, so Dr. Beiderwell accepted meat, eggs and other items for meals for patients in the hospital,” Naysmith said. Dr. Beiderwell also took advantage of the pheasant hunting on the Naysmith farm.

“Dr. Beiderwell also said my little sister needed peace and quiet at home to recover,” laughs Naysmith. “I was five at the time, and my parents didn’t think I would help the peace and quiet.”

So, even though Naysmith was still too young to go to school, teacher Darlene Fleming agreed he could come anyway.

The Hellers are buried at Belleville Cemetery.

Read about the potential impact of keeping 5% of your estate in Republic County here – www.republiccountykansas.com/why-keep-5-in-kansas/


2010-2019  Estimated Transfer of Wealth


 5% Capture Goal


2010-2064 Estimated Transfer of Wealth


5% Capture Goal