Kurt William Heinrich, born Kurt Wilhelm Heinrich, of Kenosha, Wisconsin, passed away in the early hours on August 22, 2022, surrounded by family, in the comfort of his daughter’s home and hand.
Kurt was born to Karl and Doris Heinrich on January 27, 1949, in Seelze, Germany, and immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1952 when he was just 3 years old. Kurt grew up in Franklin Park, Illinois. He graduated from West Leyden High School in Northlake in 1967 and went on to Triton College and Technical Institute where he began his journey into law enforcement.
Kurt is survived by daughters: Jorry Heinrich-Rode and husband Chris Rode and Trinda Fox and husband Andy, his grandchildren: Brennen Heinrich, Helena Fox, Ryan Fox, Emily Robinson, and Samantha Pugh, his great-grandchildren: Matthew Robinson, Jackson Nichols, Gannon Barnes, Madelyn Barnes, April Pugh and Penelope Pugh, and brother Fred Heinrich. Kurt is also survived by his brothers and sisters in Blue and the K9 community. Kurt was preceded in death by his parents, Karl and Doris Heinrich, and great-granddaughter Everleigh Pugh.
Kurt was an avid HAM radio operator and got his first license when he was still a teenager. The call sign WA9PHA is engrained in the minds of everyone that knew him. Kurt was also a dedicated Law Enforcement officer. He started in career in Dwight, Illinois in the early 70’s. He worked for the Carol Stream, West Chicago, Woodridge, and Plano Police Departments before landing in Downers Grove in 1981.
Kurt received commendations from Lisle Fire Protection District in 1972 when he risked his life during freezing temperatures and a snowstorm to provide lifesaving first-aid in a personal injury accident, from the US Department of Justice for his assistance in the 1988 apprehension and arrest of Jorge Ayala and in 1990 from the Village of Glen Ellyn for his assistance during the visit of former President George Bush.
Kurt has been a huge dog lover since he was a child. He began researching how to incorporate dogs into police work in the 80’s and read every book and attended classes to learn to how train a dog for police work and the various aspects in which they could help. On his own he purchased and trained Casey, a German Shepherd Dog, Colonel McGruff, a Bloodhound, Axel Foley, a German Shepherd Dog, and Magnum PI, a German Shepherd Dog. In 1999, he was finally able to convince the Chief and Mayor of Downers Grove that they needed their own full-time dog, and started the town’s first official K9 unit with his partner K9 Drax. Kurt was instrumental in founding the Illinois Police Work Dog Association in the 90’s.
After retiring from the Downers Grove Police Department Kurt continued to work for the village in their Fleet Services unit fully retiring in 2011.
In addition to his radios and dogs, Kurt was a huge NASCAR fan. He loved Corvettes, any TV show with cops, and he never had a need for duct-tape, as Velcro was the answer to everything!
A Memorial will be held on Thursday, September 1, 2022, from 2pm – 5pm, with a Service at 5pm at Toon Funeral Homes, 4920 Main Street, Downers Grove, IL 60515.