By Teresa Ohlrich Johnson
Jackie Bouquet was a sophomore at McNeese State University at Lake Charles, Louisiana, when she met her future husband at an Aggie party at Lake McQueeney over the Thanksgiving holidays. Jackie probably never imagined that she would one day marry an Air Force officer and make New Braunfels her home. She also probably never imagined that her exceptional volunteerism in her adopted hometown would earn her Living Legend recognition by the Braunfels Foundation Trust.
Born in Iowa, Louisiana Jackie earned a twirling and band scholarship to McNeese State University where was she head majorette her junior and senior years. When Jackie was a senior at McNeese, Lieutenant Dennis Heitkamp, now stationed at Lake Charles Air Force Base, looked up the girl he met at Lake McQueeney. After graduating with a B.A. in Speech and English, Jackie taught English at Lake Charles High School until she and Dennis were married and began their twenty-seven- year Air Force career.
After retiring from the Air Force in 1984, the Heitkamps moved to New Braunfels and Jackie jumped in with both feet and began her career of service. She volunteered for many years at both the Sophienburg Museum’s Christmas fundraiser, Weihnachtsmarkt, and for the Conservation Society as Board secretary, Historian, and a Lindheimer House docent. It is her work with the Heritage Society, however, for which is undoubtedly best known.
Jackie is a charter member of the Heritage Society, Inc., with whom she has a thirty-year relationship serving in numerous roles including a thirteen-year turn as Board secretary and twenty-five-year term as Board Historian. Her education background and love of teaching may explain her passion for the Heritage Society’s Docent Program. Jackie has been a docent for thirty plus years, a docent trainer for twenty years, and she has been recognized as Docent Chair of the Year and Docent Trainer of the Year five times.
Jackie served as Chair of the Folkfest Antiques and Collectibles for many years. She was mentored by Bobbie Purdam and Nan and Bill Dillen at the Museum of Texas Handmade Furniture and served as Conservator for damaged furniture restoring pieces in the collection. Learning to repair and sometimes even rebuild the mannequins used for the annual Heritage Exhibits, Jackie served as Mannequin Chair repairing, repainting, and even searching for and collecting over seventy mannequins. Jackie and Dennis chaired both the New Braunfels Sesquicentennial Heritage Exhibit and Folkfest and were recognized with the Heritage Society’s Outstanding Service Award in 2017.
Living Legends share a common thread in the fabric of their character — an unwavering focus on a diversity of interests. Jackie is a member of the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce, a Senior Blue Coat, and was recognized with placement in the Chamber’s Hall of Honor in 2000. As a member of the Braunfels Foundation Trust, Jackie has worked on the Arrangements Committee for the Trust’s Living Legends celebration from its inaugural event through 2017. Jackie is a thirty-one-year associate member of the Ferdinand Lindheimer Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, and since 1986, a member of the New Braunfels Garden Club serving in all leadership positions at least once! She has been associated with the Friends of the Library for the past thirty years. As a Lions Club State Certified Vision screener, Jackie continues to provide vision screenings for an average of 5000 NBISD and CISD elementary school children at twenty-four campuses each year.
As well as raising two children, Mark and Blair, Jackie Heitkamp assisted her husband in countless ways during their air force career. As an officer’s wife, she was instrumental in helping new wives adjust to the demands of service life in remote duty stations. She was not born or raised in New Braunfels but has spent much of her adult life learning and teaching the story of New Braunfels – whether as a docent at the Comal County Courthouse or at Heritage Village – to school children, adults, locals, and visitors alike. Her commitment to continue and preserve that story of New Braunfels is absolutely the stuff of which Legends are made.