Ray Heins, the longtime Colorado Springs sign painter, died Wednesday morning after a long illness. He was 92.
During his 50-year career, Heins painted signs for just about every business in the Pikes Peak region, from Calhan to Cripple Creek.
The discovery of his photo library, documenting the signs he painted, excited officials at the Pioneers Museum.
They say Heins was a valuable local historian and his photos will be acquired for the museum collection for research purposes and for display.
Heins' daughter, Elaine Heins Foster, said he died in the company of his other daughter, Lynette Heins Kemp, as well as his step-daughter, Judy McCombe-Gandolf. He'd been in hospice care for several weeks.
Heins was born Jan. 30, 1921, in Loup City, Neb. He joined the Army in 1942 and served four years, largely in China, during World War II. After the war, he returned to Colorado Springs, where he had been stationed at Camp Carson.
In Colorado Springs, he looked up Alma Buckley, the fiance' of an Army buddy who had died during the war. He and Alma were soon wed and remained married 44 years until her death in 1989.
He took a job with a sign painter, learned the trade and started his own company, Heins for Signs.
Besides his daughters, he is survived by his wife, Ethel, whom he married in 1990.
"He was the best Dad in the world," Heins Foster said. "He was a wonderful guy. We did everything together."
Funeral arrangements are pending.