Dr. Harlan and Golda Heim

Dr. Harlan and Golda Heim
…by Bob Williamson
Dr. Harlan S. Heim was a dedicated physician and served the Humboldt, Nebraska community for over 40 years. He was an ordained minister of the United Methodist Church, and substituted for absent or vacationing pastors. He performed many marriages, conducted funerals and baptisms. His speaking ability made him a frequent choice for banquets, conferences, and commencement exercises.

He married Golda Mountain in 1927 and she was his companion for life. Golda was a housewife, mother of their three children, and during the years that they owned and operated the Humboldt Hospitals, she bought the food and hired the help for the two hospitals and was her husbands secretary and chauffeur. She often remarked that, “her occupation was to keep Doc going.” And this she did!

Dr. Heim attended the Dawson Public Schools, Westmar College in LeMars, Iowa, and while there was influenced by Dr. Neibel, then secretary of the Evangelical Association, to become a medical missionary in China. A close friend, Walter Ulmer, also from Dawson, served for many years in China and encouraged Dr. Heim to follow the same path.
Receiving his B.A. from Westmar in 1920, Dr. Heim attended Cornell Medical School in New York City, which at that time was one of the few medical schools in the United States offering courses in Oriental medicine. Finishing medical school in 1924 and with two years of internship in 1926, Dr. Heim was interviewed by the Rev. J.J. DeWall, head of a new mission of the Evangelical Association at Red Bird, Ky. Conditions in China being unsettled, Dr. Heim went to Red Bird until the way should open up to China. It never did.

The couple spent 6 ½ years in the Cumberland Mountains. While at Red Bird Mission, Dr. Heim established a 16-bed hospital, the first to serve the Cumberland Mountain area of southeast Kentucky. Golda was quoted as saying, “On our wedding trip we rode muleback along the creeks the only roads available on the last lap of our journey in route to our home at the mission. I had never ridden a mule!” While there were many great changes at Red Bird Mission through the years, Mrs. Heim often spoke of her vivid memories of life there when she taught in the mission school. Classes were held off and on according to the weather and the condition of the creek beds. The mission dormitory housed about 100 students.
Returning to Humboldt in August of 1933, Dr. Heim started his medical practice. In addition to serving the Humboldt Community, Dr. Heim served on the board of trustees of Westmar College from 1943 to 1971, was president of the board of trustees from 1960 to 1968, and later was named the life trustee of the college.

Two daughters were born while they were in Kentucky, Betty Jean was the first baby born in the new hospital, which the Heim’s were instrumental in building. She spent most of her life as a medical technician at the Espanola Hospital in Espanola, New Mexico. She passed away in 1982 and is buried in the Heim Cemetery at Dawson, beside her parents. Donna Marie was born January 3, 1930 and married Lloyd Epley, a lawyer of Coralville, Iowa, where they still make their home. A son, Robert Harlan was born January 6, 1942 and passed away August 10, 1991. He held several degrees and taught in several schools, the last being the University of Iowa at Iowa City, Iowa.

Dr. Heim was instrumental in founding a hospital in Humboldt in 1939 and he and his associate, Dr. A.P. Stappenbeck, opened the Holman Maternity Hospital in 1949. Dr. Heim was active in founding the Humboldt Community Memorial Hospital, the Colonial Acres Nursing Home and the Humboldt Clinic. He also managed a small home for older people known as the “cottage.”

Dr. Heim was born on September 17, 1897, a son of Henry W. and Regina Heim, on a farm north of Dawson. Dr. Heim grew up in the Dawson Bethel Church where he held his membership all of his life. Golda passed away in 1971 while on a trip to Red Bird Mission, and Dr. Heim passed away in 1974. Both are buried in the Heim Cemetery at Dawson, Nebraska.