The family was found dead in their Grand Rapids, Mich., home July 7, victims of a shooting spree that cost seven people their lives before the shooter killed himself.
Known by the nickname Frank for most of his life, Heeren was born Dec. 20, 1958. He was a third-generation produce man, eventually becoming co-owner of Heeren Bros., which he ran with his two brothers and four cousins in Grand Rapids, Comstock Park and Belding, Mich.
Heeren Bros. was founded in 1933 by John and Elmer Heeren. It grew from a one-truck, two-man operation to the largest family-owned, full line distributor in Michigan in 2006 when it acquired J.A. Besterman company, according to the Heeren Bros. website. The business now employs about 150 people and operates a fleet of 45 trucks out of a 160,000-square-foot warehouse.
A statement issued July 8 by Heeren Bros. chief executive officer Hal Roy said Tom had long been the leader of the company sales team. He worked his entire life in sales and marketing for the wholesale produce company his grandfather founded.
“As one of his favorite customers recently said, Tom was rough around the edges but had the warmest heart of anyone he knew,” Roy’s statement said. “Tom was incredibly dedicated to our business and to his family. We remember him as a man with the kindest of hearts who would give you the shirt off his back.”
Although area police are still unsure of the motive behind the July 7 shooting spree that left Tom and his family dead, reports in the Detroit Free Press indicated that the shooter, Roderick Shonte Dantzler, had a history of violence against women.
Dantzler was the father of Tom Heeren’s 12-year-old granddaughter, Kamrie, who was shot and killed July 7 along with her mother — Tom and Becky’s 29-year-old daughter Jennifer.
Funeral services for all four are scheduled for 1 p.m. July 15 at Sunshine Community Church, 3300 E. Beltline Ave. in Grand Rapids. Visitation is scheduled July 13 and 14 from noon to 3 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. both days at the church. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Carter Thomas Blease Scholarship Fund at Fifth Third Bank or Safe Haven Ministries.
Arrangements are under the direction of Heritage Life Funeral Home-Alt & Shawmut Hills. For additional details call the funeral home at 616-453-8263. Tom and Becky’s story is posted online at http://tinyurl.com/Tom-Heeren.