Heichel’s Corner, Stanwood


Intersection of old Highway 99 and the Stanwood-Bryant Road, Stanwood

Heichel’s Corner is the namesake of the Heichel Brothers (Byron, John, and Joseph) who had several businesses headquartered at the intersection of Highway 99 and Stanwood-Bryant Road. (123) After the three brothers completed their military service in WWII, they created the Heichel Brothers Land Company, Inc., which included a gas station, café, and real estate office. Most of these businesses operated from Heichel’s Corner, although they also had real estate offices in Marysville and Arlington. (124)

In 1955, there was no main road leading into Stanwood and East Stanwood. Tired of the narrow, zigzagging Bryant Road, the residents of Stanwood, East Stanwood, and Camano formed a committee to lobby, at the state and federal levels, for a new highway. However, it wasn’t until 1957 that the state budget allowed for a new route that stretched from Heichel’s Corner, a popular stop for travelers, to the Mark Clark Bridge that used to connect Stanwood and Camano. The project had many setbacks, including budget cutbacks and the collapse of an overpass, but it was finally completed in 1969. (125)

Byron Luther Heichel, was born March 17, 1916; he passed away April 2, 2013. (126) Byron’s parents were Byron and Susan Heichel, they had seven children. (127) Byron Luther served as an Air Force pilot in WWII when he was shot down and captured by the Japanese. He was a POW for two and a half years before being honorably discharged as a Major. Byron married Julie Grace in approximately 1942; they had four children— Susan, Nadine, Lynda, and Byron Jr. (128) Julie was born November 1, 1920; she died less than a month after her husband on April 28, 2013. Julie lived a wealthy life in Quezaltenango, Guatemala, before moving to Stanwood where she built a one-room house at what is known as Heichel’s Corner. Julie taught English at University of Oregon and owned a health food store in Arlington. (129)

Joseph Arthur Heichel was the sixth of the Heichel’s seven children. He was born June 22, 1920 and died March 28, 2005. His family moved to Washington State when he was 17. Joseph graduated from Mt. Vernon High School. He then attended Skagit Valley College and worked for Boeing. During WWII he followed his two brothers in joining the Army Air Force. A Staff Sergeant, he flew onboard a B-17 that was shot down over Nazi Germany on December 31, 1944. Seriously wounded, he became a German POW. Luckily, he survived and married Lois Jean Culp in 1949. Together, they lived at Heichel’s Corner and had four children: Jerry, Dan, Barbara, and JoAnn. (130) Jerry and his son Robert continued the family tradition of business ownership and started Heichel Construction, a company that built many custom homes in the Northwest. (131)

John Rodney Heichel was the youngest Heichel brother. He died at age 83 on May 8, 2006. He attended Mt. Vernon High School and the University of Washington. He, too, joined the Army Air Force during WWII and served as a first lieutenant, third photo recon, and a B-29 pilot. After his military service, John married Shirley “Virginia” J. Miner. The couple met at a dance and three weeks later they borrowed Byron’s car to elope in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho on February 10, 1947. They made a tradition of returning to Coeur d’Alene for their anniversary each year. John also graduated from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Seattle. He had had four children: John, Shirley, Laura, and Robert. (132)

John’s wife, Shirley “Virginia” Josephine passed away at age 84, on July 4, 2011. Born in Oregon, Shirley spent most of her life in Washington State. During WWII she worked for Boeing while she attended Everett Business College. She was a waitress, cook, and pastry chef for Heichel’s Café at Heichel’s Corner, which was famous for its pies. She also assisted her husband, John, with his practice. (133)

(123) Schmidt, Carol, “News Files.” Stanwood Camano News, December 4, 2012
(124) The Herald, Obituaries. May 11-12, 2006
(125) Essex, Alice, The Stanwood Story. V3, Stanwood/Camano News, 1998. pg. 46
(126) The Herald, Obituaries. April 4, 2013
(127) The Herald, Obituaries. September 16-19, 2006
(128) The Herald, Obituaries. April 4, 2013
(129) The Herald, Obituaries. May 1, 2013
(130) The Arlington Times, Obituaries. April 6, 2005
(131) The Herald, Obituaries. September 16-19, 2006
(132) The Herald, Obituaries. May 11-12, 2006
(133) The Herald, Obituaries. July 7-9, 2011

TOP LEFT: Byron Luther Heichel (The Herald, 2013), TOP CENTER: Julie Grace Heichel (The Herald, 2013), TOP RIGHT: Joseph Arthur Heichel (The Herald, 2005), BOTTOM LEFT: John Rodney Heichel N.D. (The Herald, 2006), BOTTOM RIGHT: Shirley “Virginia” Josephine Heichel (The Herald, 2011)

TOP LEFT: Byron Luther Heichel (The Herald, 2013), TOP CENTER: Julie Grace Heichel (The Herald, 2013), TOP RIGHT: Joseph Arthur Heichel (The Herald, 2005), BOTTOM LEFT: John Rodney Heichel N.D. (The Herald, 2006), BOTTOM RIGHT: Shirley “Virginia” Josephine Heichel (The Herald, 2011)