Richard Kenneth Heitzenrater, 80, passed away November 8, 2019 at Newport
Hospital. He was the husband of Martha(Corsi) Heitzenrater, a Bristol native. When they
married he embraced the town of Bristol as his own.
Born in Pennsylvania he was the son of Frederick and Leota (Grey) Heitzenrater. In
addition to his wife he is survived by his children. Paul Gilstrap II and his wife Kimberly,
Kevin Gilstrap and his wife Gina, Karen Zompa and her husband Frederick Jr. and
Bryan Heitzenrater. He also is the father of Richard, Ronald, William and Jennifer
Heitzenrater. He is survived by two sisters Muriel Grube and Patricia Martz. He was a
loving and admired grandfather to fourteen grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Mr. Heitzenrater graduated high school in Pennsylvania and then enlisted in the Navy.
He proudly served his country in several duty stations around the world and aboard the
USS Oglethorpe (AKA-100), the USS LaSalle (LPD-3), and the USS R. K. Turner
(DLG-20). In 1980 Richard transferred from active duty to fleet reserve after 23 years in
the Navy. He was a Radioman Petty Officer 1 st Class. He then began his second career
in Newport, RI as a civil servant working on the Trident Submarines until he reached
the age of retirement.
He never forgot his roots in Punxsutawney, PA. He loved and boasted to all about his
childhood home and about the greatest weather prognosticator, Phil the Groundhog. A
true patriot he was proud to make Bristol, “the most patriotic town in America”, his home
for the rest of his life.
He faithfully and joyfully kept the tradition every year of attending the Bristol Fourth of
July parade and celebrations with his family and friends. He loved his Mummers and
the bagpipers. He always shared his love for the Navy. He would swell with pride when
his Navy brothers, in their crisp white uniforms, marched by to the tune of “Anchors
Aweigh” played by the awesome Navy Band. Hooyah!
Richard never met a stranger. If he met you once he would remember you. If he met
you twice you were his friend. He was both a long time metal detecting enthusiast and
an amateur ham radio operator who went by the call sign W1HTO. Richard Kenneth
Heitzenrater was a devoted family man, friend and patriot. He will forever and always
be deeply loved and missed.
Graveside Service will be held on Saturday, December 7th , 12:30pm at St. Mary’s
Cemetery, Chestnut Street, Bristol. A celebration of Richard’s amazing life will follow at
1:30 pm at the Cup Defenders Association, 230 Wood Street, Bristol. Family and friends
are all welcome to attend and share stories.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to: Bristol 4th of July Committee PO Box 561 Bristol RI 02809.
To send flowers to Richard's family, please visit our floral section.
Bristol 4th of July Committee
PO Box 561, Bristol RI 02809