Funerals Friday for principal, son found dead in Montcalm Co.

George Heckman
An undated courtesy photo of George Heckman. (Pewamo-Westphalia Schools)

WESTPHALIA, Mich. (WOOD) — An elementary school principal who police say shot and killed his adult son before turning the gun on himself will be laid to rest Friday, along with his son.

The bodies of 52-year-old George Heckman and his 28-year-old son, Grant, were found in a van Monday night on a dirt two-track off Tow Road near Boyer Road in Montcalm County’s Bushnell Township, according to Michigan State Police.

George was the principal of Pewamo–Westphalia Elementary school. He was supposed to take over as district superintendent within days, according to current superintendent Dr. Garth Cooper.

Pewamo-Westphalia Community Schools
A sign greets visitors to Pewamo-Westphalia Community Schools.

Cooper said he understood that Grant Heckman had “severe physical disabilities.”

“There just was no indication that there was anything disturbing his (George’s) mind, so when I heard the news, it was just incredibly shocking. And of course, it hurts you very deeply,” Cooper told our Nexstar sister station, WLNS.

Paul Hungerford says he spoke to his cousin George three to four times a week and was also in disbelief when he heard the news of the murder-suicide.

“I was shocked like everybody else, but I just want to be around my family,” said Hungerford. “Our family is very tight, very close.”

Thursday, close friends and family filed their way into Pewamo-Westphalia High School to pay their respects to Grant and George.

“George is, you know, he changed the atmosphere of a room, he brought so much enjoyment to everyone’s life,” said Hungerford. “Grant…what a fantastic young man…he had his challenges all the way through, but I saw so many happy times with Grant too.”

George leaves behind his wife Jeanne, his son Sam, and daughter Claudia. Grant’s memory will also be carried on through his mother, brother and sister.

Funeral services for the father and son will take place at 10:30 a.m. Friday at St. Mary’s church in Westphalia.