E. Bruce Heilman

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Earl Bruce Heilman

(Chancellor of the University of Richmond in Virginia
Trustee of Campbellsville University in Kentucky)

Born July 16, 1926
Smithfield, Henry County, Kentucky

Resident of Richmond, Virginia

Died October 19, 2019 (aged 93)

Resting place:
University of Richmond Columbarium & Memorial Garden in Richmond, Virginia

Spouse Betty Dobbins Heilman (married 1948-2013, her death)

Five children

Religion Southern Baptist

Earl Bruce Heilman, known as E. Bruce Heilman (July 16, 1926 – October 19, 2019), was the chancellor of the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia, and a 25-year member of the board of trustees of Southern Baptist-affiliated Campbellsville University (formerly Campbellsville College) in Taylor County in central Kentucky.[1]

A native of Smithfield in Henry County in northern Kentucky, Heilman served in Okinawa in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. He graduated in 1949 from what was then Campbellsville Junior College and received three degrees from Peabody College in the capital city of Nashville, Tennessee, since part of Vanderbilt University. He also studied at the University of Omaha, the University of Tennessee, and the University of Kentucky. From 1966 to 1971, he was the president of the women's institution, Merideth College in the capital city of Raleigh, North Carolina. He then assumed the presidency of the University of Richmond, a post he retained from 1971 to 1986 and then again on an interim basis in 1987 and 1988 after his first successor resigned. He worked in administrative positions at such institutions as United Methodist-affiliated Kentucky Wesleyan in Owensboro and Baptist-affiliated Georgetown College in Scott County, Kentucky.[2]

Heilman was married to the former Betty Dobbins from 1948 until her death in 2013 and was the father of five children: Tim Heilman, Bobbie Heilman Murphy, Nancy Heilman Cale, Terry Heilman Sylvester, and Sandy Heilman Kuehl The CU Student Complex is named for Heilman. The president's home at CU is named for Mrs. Heilman, a 1948 graduate of the institution.[2][1] Current CU president Michael V. Carter described Mrs. Heilman as "the epitome of a southern lady. She was supportive of her husband but also had her own mind and thoughts. She was very wise, always kind and gracious. You always looked forward to seeing her. ..."[1]

In 2008, Heilman published his autobiography, An Interruption That Lasted a Lifetime: My First Eighty Years. William Randolph Davenport, the Campbellsville College president from 1969 to 1988, called Heilman "the university's greatest benefactor. The Lord has used him to be responsible for millions of dollars."[1]

In his later years, Heilman, as a spokesman for the Greatest Generation Foundation, sought to deliver what he called the "fading message" of American military forces in the world war. After a trip to Iwo Jima with a long-term friend, Kenneth Brown of Utah in 2017, Heilman reported on the horrors of the battlefield at a student forum at Campbellsville University:

I was never quite able to forget the faces of those men they carried on the stretchers. They had looked about sixteen. While on this detail, I learned that a lot of blood can leak out of a body that had been half cut in two by machine gun fire. I am not referring to the usual sounds of gunfire, bombs, explosions, etc., which can easily be described or duplicated. The sounds which have haunted me from the beginning, and I still haven’t wiped away from my memory, were the screams, moans, the outlandish cries of the wounded and dying.

To those of us who were listeners, these shouts, curses, screams and groans were constant, day and night, and were indistinguishable as to enemy, comrades, or outfits.

The smells I refer to as indescribable were those of rotting, decaying, and sometimes burning human flesh. There simply is nothing so offensive to the senses as that of dead bodies ripening in the sun.

Dying on the battlefield is most often a long and drawn out affair. The Marines on Iwo Jima were well conditioned and in perfect health. I was surprised to learn how much it took to kill one of them. I have seen them with the whole lower part of their bodies blown away, still able to talk coherently for a time.

God made the human body to take a lot of punishment. Too bad Iwo Jima had to subject so many strong young men to an impossible level of recovery."[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Joan C. McKinney, "Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, Campbellsville University board member and alumnus, dies at 93," Campbellsvillian: The Magazine for Alumni and Friends of Campbellsville University, Fall 2019, pp. 8-9.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Kasey Ricketts (November 1, 2017). Dr. E. Bruce Heilman shares the fading message of World War II. Campbellsville.edu. Retrieved on December 31, 2017.