Prominent realtor, WWII veteran dies

Chris, left, and Jay Heying are pictured with their father Ernie at his Churchill County home in December 2022.

Chris, left, and Jay Heying are pictured with their father Ernie at his Churchill County home in December 2022.
Photo by Steve Ranson.

A prominent Fallon businessman and community leader who fought in three wars died at Renown Medical Center on Oct 9 after a lengthy illness.

Ernest “Ernie” Heying spent 28 years in the U.S. Navy before transferring to Fallon in 1968. At that time, he helped set up the electronic warfare range at Dixie Valley. Heying, who fought in World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars, retired as a lieutenant commander in 1972.

Heying was born in Richmond, Minnesota, on July 15, 1927.

A Rosary is set for Nov. 10 at 5 p.m. at The Gardens with the funeral on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Anny, who died on Dec. 27, 2017. The Heyings had been married for 60 years and saw the world before settling down in Churchill County. Among the locations the Heyings lived overseas were Naples, Italy, where they married; Argentina and Newfoundland. Stateside assignments included Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland; Naval Air Station Brunswick, Maine; and Naval Support Activity Monterey (California).

Heying kept current with the Navy and his former aviators by belonging to the Tailhook Association. The Lahontan Valley News, along with the Nevada Military Journal and several other online news sources featured Heying in a March 2023 article about his military service and Honor Flight Nevada he took in October 2022. Honor Flight takes veterans to Washington, D.C. for four days where they can see the nation’s war memorials built in their honor.

Jay and Chris accompanied their father on the four-day trip a year ago. Jay said his father and another veteran, Vera Baker, had the honor of placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The veterans also visited the World War II and Korean War memorials and the Vietnam Wall where Heying looked for the name of a friend and fellow aviator who was shot down in North Vietnam.

While in Washington, D.C., Heying received the Korean Ambassador for Peace medal from Congressman Mark Amodei, Nevada Congressional District 2.  

During his career, the Navy assigned Heying to six aircraft carriers beginning with the USS Leyte during the Korean War. At the same time, a young, black pilot featured in the 2022 movie, “Devotion,” was shot down over Korea in December 1950. Ensign Jesse Brown was a pilot in Fighter Squadron VF-33, while Heying was enlisted.

Choppy seas and gale-force winds whipped the Navy ships, but Heying said that was mild compared to the subfreezing temperatures soldiers and Marines experienced in at the infamous battle of Chosin Reservoir where lows reached minus 50 degrees.

After the Korean War, Heying attended training to learn more about the P2V Neptune maritime patrol aircraft, and he also completed Officer Candidate School in 1960 at Newport, Rhode Island. He also qualified as a navigation officer for an EA-1F Skyraider.

Heying also  served aboard the USS Coral Sea when the North Koreans attacked and captured the USS Pueblo, a Navy intelligence spy ship, in 1968. During the Vietnam War Heying sailed on both the aircraft carriers USS Enterprise and USS Bon Homme Richard. Heying received the World War II Victory Medal, the Korean War Service Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal and other medals awarded to him.

Jay said his father’s final stop on his illustrious career brought him to Fallon in 1968 where he helped set up the electronic warfare range at Dixie Valley. He retired four years later as a lieutenant commander, and the family remained in Fallon. Jay and his sister Teresa said a new career path after retirement took their father to his own business as a realtor/broker with Independence Realty, and he was a member of local and state realtor associations.

Heying was also appointed to a Nevada legislative committee,and sat on the Churchill County Planning Board for six years. In 1978, Jay said the late Ralph Ratti and his father were among the founders of the Greenwave Quarterback Club. Heying was also involved with Pop Warner youth football and Fallon Youth Baseball’s Little League and Babe Ruth programs. Jay said his father enjoyed coaching and also belonged to the Antique Automobile Club of America.

Jay said his father was partial to Cadillacs from the 1950s.

“His crown jewel was a 1955 Cadillac El Dorado convertible,” Jay said.

Not only was Heying partial to classic automobiles, but Jay said his father also treasured his antique tractors.

If the Heyings weren’t riding in one of the Cadillacs or attending a ball game,

Jay said his parents loved polka dancing.

“They went dancing from one side of the country to another,” Jay said.

Over the years, Heying became a small-plane pilot and aficionado of the Reno Air Races.

Heying was also preceded in death by his parents, seven brothers and four sisters. He is survived by his children, Joe (Toni) Heying, Jay Heying, Teresa (Mike) Brown, Chris (Monique) Heying, Renee (Shawn) Thurston; grandchildren, Shane, Allison and Evan Brown, Lyndsey and Broder Thurston, Joey, Nick and Anthony Peloso; and great-grandchildren, Talan and Breckyn; Jace and Gabriella; and Jackson, Axel and Elijah.


For a look at our March article on Ernie Heying, go to


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