When Blaze Heckert goes to class, it hardly ever crosses his mind that his family name is on the building in which he studies.
Blaze, a Pittsburg State University graduate student in polymer chemistry, has frequent classes in Heckert/Wells Hall, which is named after Leon Clayton Heckert, Blaze’s great-great grandfather.
“Honestly, I didn’t know that much about him until recently,” Blaze said.
Mike Heckert, Blaze’s father, said his experience was similar when he was a PSU student.
“I think I had only one professor even ask about it,” Mike said.
Blaze’s grandfather, Roger Heckert (BS chemistry 1968), said he remembers L.C. Heckert fondly.
“Everyone talks about my grandpa (Leon) because of how smart he was,” Roger Heckert said. “But I remember him as a kind person. I remember him as a person who had a passion for students and for teaching.”
Heckert said his grandfather was a successful chemist in Pennsylvania and was instrumental in the development of the pesticide DDT before coming to teach at what was then Kansas Teachers College. During his career he was also a consultant for many chemical companies and played a key role in establishing Spencer Chemical Company in southeast Kansas.
Leon Heckert is also credited with forming the Vocational Technical Institute and served as its director for a time. He retired in 1961. The building that bears his name was dedicated in 1984.
Leon Heckert’s legacy also includes a long line of PSU alumni. In addition to Blaze, Mike and Roger, the family counts numerous Gorillas, including Roger’s father, James, who attended for two years before joining the Navy in WWII.
“It all just makes me very proud,” Roger said.