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Southeast Iowa Mourns Loss of Beloved Doctor

By Ellis Codjoe, April 16, 2018

This past weekend, Ottumwa, Fairfield and the surrounding communities lost a doctor that touched multiple generations. Dr. Jay Heitsman passed away on Saturday surrounded by loved ones. He was 64.

Dr. Heitsman was a pediatrician that practiced in southeast Iowa for over 35 years. With that kind of longevity, he cared for children and, as time passed, the children of those children. One only needs to look at social media to see the impact that he had. You will see testimony after testimony that paints a picture of a smart, gentle, caring doctor that treated each patient like his own child.

That kind of caring leaves an impression, so much so that Dr. Heitsman’s advice and guidance was gospel to many. It also makes his passing that much more poignant and profound.


Dr. Jay Carl Heitsman, 64, of Ottumwa was a husband, father, Papa and beloved pediatrician of many. He went to be with his heavenly father at 10:20 a.m. April 14, 2018 at Ottumwa Regional Health Center in the care of many loving hands.

He was born November 14, 1953 in Oskaloosa to J. Cornell and Opal Richardson Heitsman. He married Phyllis Showman on December 6, 1973.

A graduate of Oskaloosa High School in 1971 and William Penn University in 1974, he graduated from the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 1978, and there served his residency in pediatrics. In 1981 he opened his private practice in Ottumwa. In 2011 he started working at the Jefferson County Medical Arts Clinic where he was still seeing patients. He greatly enjoyed his work, going above and beyond for many of his patients. He had a wonderful impact on generations of kids.

Jay loved to create and be in the outdoors. There was a project he was always working on. The tree carved into Chief Wapello, located at the entrance of Beach Ottumwa was donated from Jay’s land. He also loved spending time with his family, especially his grandchildren.

Surviving is his wife, Phyllis; a daughter, Jodie (Davis) Eidahl of Solon; two sons, Josh (Stephanie) Heitsman of Princeton and Jesse Heitsman of Ottumwa; six grandchildren, True, Trin, Trea, Jace, Jax and Saylor; a sister, Karen Heitsman Ray of Oskaloosa; his mother-in-law, Doris Showman of Oskaloosa; two sisters-in-law, Linda (Irvin) Hartley of Ottumwa and Connie (Merle) Miller of Oskaloosa; three nephews, Clayton, Michael and Jim.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his father-in-law, Lyle Showman.

His body has been cremated. A time for friends to greet his family will be held from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Reece Funeral Home in Ottumwa.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials may be made to Jefferson County Health Center Foundation in memory of Dr. Jay Heitsman for pediatric equipment or to Ottumwa Police Department for Elementary Bike Helmet Safety Program.

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