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Obituary: Heffernan, John Patrick

HEFFERNAN, John Patrick Born March 17, 1938 to William and Cecilia Heffernan on a ranch in Williston, North Dakota. He moved to Spokane Washington with his family in 1952. He graduated from Gonzaga Preparatory School in 1956. John then joined the Air Force and was stationed in various locations around the globe and left the service in 1960. He then attended Gonzaga University and received a BA degree. After graduating from Gonzaga University, John first worked at a bank and then, on a whim, he applied for a job with the Board of Prisons Terms and Parole. He began his career as a probation officer, working first in the Wenatchee area. In 1964, he returned to Spokane and met and married Kathy, his wife of 46 years. He received a promotion and they moved to Walla Walla. When they returned to Spokane, he continued his work with probationers and was instrumental in ending the abuses at the Walla Walla Penitentiary in the 1970’s. Due to this experience, John began to volunteer nights at the Spokane County Jail to learn about jails and to try and find a better way of dealing with crime. John helped establish the first work release program in the Spokane County Jail. Next, he supervised the work release facility at Geiger Corrections Center. He was promoted to Superintendant of Pine Lodge Corrections Center. In 1991, John left Pine Lodge to design and open Airway Heights Corrections Center. At that time, the Airway Heights Corrections Center was the largest state project to be completed on time and under budget. John made the focus of the prison a place of human development, rehabilitation and service to the community. He was acting Superintendant until his retirement in 1993. John also served on several local school and community involvement boards. He was also a dedicated husband and father. John made time for his children by never missing any concerts or sporting events despite his work demands. In retirement, John worked as a consultant and continued to serve his community. He designed and implemented the “Computers for Kids Program” which refurbished and placed donated computer equipment into schools across Washington State. He was the director of Mission Community Outreach in the east central area of Spokane. John was also an author and wrote his first book “Not one Drop of Blood” about the harshness of the prison and criminal justice system. He was working on his second book at the time of his death on March 6th. He is survived by his wife Kathy, his children Shawn (Sandi), Kelly, Michele, Tim (Leslie) and Jason (Devin), his brothers Jim and David and his sister Patty. He was blessed with grandchildren Zack, Emily, Hannah, Addison, Bailey, Ethan and Olivia. Donations can be made be made in his name to St. Charles Catholic School. A Rosary will be held at 10:00 am on Tuesday, March 12, at St. Charles Catholic Church, 4515 N. Alberta. A Funeral Mass will follow at 11:00 am. with visitation before the services. Interment will be at Holy Cross Cemetery, 7200 N. Wall, at 3:00 pm. Please visit John’s online tribute at, and leave a message of condolence. Arrangements entrusted to: