A fifth generation Texan and a descendent of seven founding New Braunfels families, Colonel Dennis Heitkamp retired after twenty seven years in the United States Air Force to his hometown of New Braunfels. Dennis would then begin a banking career with Texas Commerce Bank — later JP Morgan Chase — and amass a remarkable volunteer resume of service that has secured his place as a Living Legend of New Braunfels.
Dennis graduated early from New Braunfels High School in 1952 and entered Texas A&M in 1952 graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology. At Texas A&M, he was recognized as one of ten Distinguished Military Graduates and was awarded an Air Force commission. His flying experience spanned a period of eight years including sorties in Viet Nam with the remaining nineteen years spent in Command, Operations and Maintenance of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. His significant military awards include the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Meritorious Service Medals, eight Air Medals, the Vietnam Service Medal with seven Gold Devices, and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm. While in the Air Force, he received an MBA from Ohio State University
Dennis’s service to his community is as impressive as his service to his country. He has served at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church and was instrumental in transitioning the Fund Drive from the former Comal County Community Fund to the successful United Way. He served the United Way in various capacities for many years and was recognized as the Comal United Way Volunteer of the Year.
His love of his hometown and his heritage is seen in his service to the Heritage Society where he has been board member, treasurer, and President. Dennis and his wife, Jackie, have co-chaired both the Heritage Exhibit and Folkfest events and were honored by the Heritage Society as Grand Marshalls of the KinderMasken Parade. Dennis also served as vice president of the Conservation Society and a board member and president of the Sophienburg Museum and Archives. An Opa Emeritus, Dennis served on the Wurstfest Association Board and as Grosse Opa. After the disastrous 1998 flood, many suggested cancelling the upcoming Wurstfest, but as President, Dennis rallied the Association to clean and repair the Wurstfest grounds so the many non-profit organizations would not be negatively impacted. Following the successful Festival, the Association donated all its profits to the community.
Dennis has been involved in countless areas of the Lions Club from the local to the state levels serving in the highest leadership levels for over twenty years. His service to those with special physical needs is evidenced by his service at the Texas Lions Camp in Kerrville and for which he was recognized with his induction into the Texas Lions Hall of Fame in 2013. Dennis is a Chamber Senior Blue Coat, a Life Member of the Chamber, and a recipient of the Chairman of the Board Award for Historic Preservation. He has received the Besserung Award for community building and was installed in the Hall of Honor. He has served as both member and chair of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, is credited with creating the idea of Leadership New Braunfels, and was on the founding committee for the Youth Leadership New Braunfels program.
He has served as the Finance Chairman and Fund Drive Chairman for the Sesquicentennial Commission, Chairman of the Comprehensive Master Plan, Public Facilities, Public Services, Capital Improvements and Finance Subcommittee.
Dennis has served as both Vice President and President of the Braunfels Foundation Trust. He was instrumental in having the ownership of the Historic Hinmann House transferred to The Braunfels Foundation Trust and in establishing that historic facility as the Home of the Communities in Schools of South Central Texas. Because of this leadership, the Braunfels Foundation Trustees allows Communities in Schools to operate rent free from that location. Communities in Schools awarded him their prestigious Friends of Children Award and the Braunfels Foundation Trust recognized him as the Honorary Chairman of the 2012 Legends Banquet. He has been recognized by the New Braunfels ISD Education Foundation as a Distinguished Alumni.
Dennis Heitkamp is living proof you can go home again and make a difference. For that, he is now a Living Legend.