MADISON, Wis. (5/6/13)--Richard "Doc" Heins, 85, who in 2010 was recognized with a Herb Wegner Award for his lifetime achievements in the credit union movement, died Friday. For 27 years, Heins was with CUNA Mutual Insurance Group, starting in 1969 as a consultant and retiring in 1996 as its president and CEO.
Heins was well-known, well-respected, and well-liked throughout the credit union world, and many of the movement's top leaders who knew him best said he will not be forgotten.
"Doc was one of those rare individuals that possessed incredible creativity combined with a passion to collaborate," said Jeff Post, CUNA Mutual president/CEO. "The leadership and vision he provided--not only to the United States credit union system and its members, but other credit union systems and members around the world--is still being felt today. It was an honor to know him and learn from him."
Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney also noted Heins' dedication to credit unions.
"Doc Heins was an icon for the credit union movement and for the CUNA/league system," Cheney noted. "In a very real way, he charted the course for the partnership between CUNA and CUNA Mutual that serves all credit unions so well to this day. All of us will miss his visionary leadership and his consistent focus on supporting every aspect of our system."
"In his nearly four decades of association with CUNA Mutual, and more than 50 years within the cooperative movement overall, his influence was tremendous. When he was awarded the Herb Wegner Award, it was noted that throughout his career that 'he pushed us all to see beyond what is there and explore new possibilities.' No more appropriate words have ever been said for such a vital man in the credit union movement," Cheney added.
Susan Newton, executive director of the American Association of Credit Union Leagues, highlighted that Heins' dedication to credit unions was exemplified through his many achievements and innovations on behalf of credit unions, including: creating a program allowing credit unions to write loans for as little as 5% down; expanding the delivery of direct-response products including life insurance, his pioneering application of applying age and health factors to insurance risk ratings, his unwavering support of an independent federal regulator and insurer for credit unions, his backing for creation of the Filene Research Institute (and later the i3 group); and, his international work, including encouragement for rebuilding credit unions in Poland after the demise of the communist regime in that country.
"Doc was ceaseless in his devotion to credit unions and cooperatives worldwide; his legacy is stronger credit unions here in America, and a surging cooperative movement around the globe," Newton said.
The president/CEO of CO-OP Financial Services, Stan Hollen, remembered Heines as an inspiration to many over the years: "He formed his CEO Dialogue Group and Members Development Council years ago and I was fortunate to be a member.
"I still have the rocking chair he had delivered to my home that each Council Member received. Doc was most comfortable in front of a group with an easel and marker to sketch out his ideas. His leadership in combining with Century Companies in Iowa set the stage for the future of CUNA Mutual. He will be missed but not forgotten."
Larry Blanchard, former senior vice president for special projects from CUNA Mutual Group, added that Heins was a visionary, mentor and philanthropist who embodied the philosophy of "helping people to help themselves."
"Among his great and unsung achievements was that as a young professor at University of Wisconsin in the 1960s, he conceived a novel idea to help millions of Americans become homeowners: private mortgage insurance. His interests ranged from credit unions as tools for economic and social development to urban development, manufacturing and more."
Dick Ensweiler, president of the Texas Credit Union League, said Heins was the one, along with former CUNA Mutual president Bob Curry, who recruited Ensweiler to CUNA Mutual. He called Heins "a warm and personal gentleman who was both very bright and lots of fun" who was CUNA Mutual's "idea guy."
"Doc always had an open mind and sought input to what else the organization could be doing." Ensweiler also reminded of Heins' co-founder role for the Filene Research Institute, backing his strong belief that the credit union community needed a strong research function."
Funeral services for Heins will be held Thursday, May 9 at 11:00 a.m. (CT) at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, 1701 McKenna Boulevard, Madison, Wis.