July/August 2010
In Memoriam: U.S. Court of Appeals
Judge Gerald W. Heaney

The Honorable Gerald W. Heaney died on June 22, 2010, in Duluth, Minnesota,
at the age of 92. Gerald Heaney was born on January 29, 1918, in Goodhue, Minnesota. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in 1939 and his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1941. He was a lawyer for the Securities Division of the Department
of Commerce before enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1942.

Heaney’s military record is stellar and historic. He served in the Second Ranger Battalion, an elite fighting unit. On D-day, June 6, 1944, Lieutenant Heaney led his unit as the first wave of soldiers to invade Normandy at Omaha Beach. He also fought in France with General Patton’s Third Army. He achieved the rank of captain and earned a Silver Star; EA ME Ribbon with five bronze stars and Arrowhead; Bronze Star, Presidential Unit Citation; and five battle stars.

After his military service, Heaney worked as partner in the law firm Lewis, Hammer, Heaney, Weyl & Halverson
from 1946 to 1969 and became a recognized leader in the area of labor law.
During this time, he also became a leading citizen of Duluth and an influential political figure. He worked to improve education and housing in Duluth and helped form the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party with famous Minnesotan politicians like Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, and Orville Freeman.

In 1966, Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. He served for 40 years, assuming senior status in 1988 and retiring in 2006. As a jurist, Judge Heaney was a champion for equal rights for all persons regardless of race, religion, gender, or disability. He is known for his opinions
in criminal and civil rights, a leading decision in social security law, and his major role in school desegregation cases. He co-authored the book, Unending Struggle: The Long Road to an Equal Education in St. Louis.

Judge Heaney is survived by his wife, Eleanor, and two children, William and Carol, a sister, Elizabeth Majerus, six grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

Click here for the page created by the librarians of the 8th Circuit dedicated to the great life and work of Judge Heaney. You will find career highlights, transcripts of his portrait ceremony and 2001 oral history discussing his service in WW II, an audio clip of his last day on the 8th Circuit bench, and a bibliography
of work by and about Judge Heaney.

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