Heidi Marie Hinz (Erchinger) was born February 13, 1982, to Merilee and Rudy Erchinger at the Mount Vernon Birth Center in Mount Vernon, Washington. From an early age, Heidi exhibited not only a sense of adventure, but a deep love for animals and children. There was nothing that brought her more joy than spending time with family and supporting her loved ones.
As a seven-year-old with curly blonde hair, Heidi traveled around the world with her family for a year—smuggling Bibles and bringing medical supplies into Communist countries, as well as riding donkeys and camels around the Egyptian Pyramids. She loved the animals and people she met, and she hated what she called “the boring” museums -- at least after she visited the hundredth one.
Like any true Erchinger, her sense of adventure never left her. Her years in college and those shortly after were filled with adventures to Thailand with a roommate, Belize with her brother Hans, snowboarding, and serving kids at Fircreek and foster kids at Royal Family Kids Camp. She got a dual bachelor’s degree in biology and anthropology at Western Washington University, then moved to Los Angeles where she put her degree to work at the UCLA eye clinic. It was here where some of Heidi’s mental health challenges first surfaced, and with family support she returned home.
After much hard work stabilizing, Heidi earned a Physical Therapist Assistant degree. She loved anatomy, science, and helping people. She found great joy relationally as she supported people in their healing at St. Joseph’s Medical Center. Heidi also served for a time on the Kids in Motion Board, a physical therapy non-profit for children. Adventures continued as she took up Latin dancing, as well as kayaking in the Salish Sea and participating in Ski to Sea races.
But her biggest adventure and her greatest dream of being a wife and mother were fulfilled when she met Tom Hinz at a Bible Study at Hillcrest Church. They married on March 4, 2017, and she became a devoted stepmother to two incredible young women, Mercedes and Mariah Hinz. Heidi took on her new role of wife and mom with fervor, as she supported Tom’s wrestling and football teams, spearheading fundraisers, manning concession stands and being the No. 1 fan for both Tom and the kids he coached, while jumping full on into leading a girl’s small group in the youth group.
The Hinz family did everything in the superlative—from matching Christmas sweaters (They always won the ugly sweater contest!) to themed family Halloween costumes. They showed up and jumped in, rolling up their sleeves to help everyone around them. Whether it was operating the espresso stand at the church Harvest carnival, where Heidi wore a Wonder Woman costume, or supporting Tom with renovations, as well as other peoples’ renovations. Heidi always showed up and offered a helping hand.
On March 18, 2019, Tom and Heidi’s first child Thomas St. Jerome Hinz was born. Then, in a surprise “12 Days of Christmas” music video that her youth group girls helped her create, she announced she was pregnant with her second child. On August 4, 2021, Tigerlily Harmony Hinz came into the world. Heidi was a devoted mother to her children, chauffeuring the older ones to activities, taking her younger ones to doctor’s appointments, swimming and parks, and even planning Tigerlily’s dedication on her final day.
In the shadow of the pandemic, a perfect storm of life challenges, relational strains, and serious mental illness hit Heidi this year, and on May 4, 2022, she took her own life. Because of the grace of Jesus, we know Heidi is in the arms of our Lord. She is survived by her husband, Tom Hinz; her children, Thomas St. Jerome, Tigerlily Harmony, Mercedes Beth and Mariah Jean; her mother-in-law Donna Hinz; her parents, Rudy and Merilee Erchinger; her brother, Hans Erchinger-Davis; her sister-in-law, Janel Erchinger-Davis; and her niece and nephew, Cora and Apollo. She also leaves behind her aunt and uncle, Carol and Ted VanZanden, as well as cousins, Chris Parkhurst; Ted Jon VanZanden and son, Jaden; Pieter VanZanden and wife Lucy; Anna Whelan, husband Charlie and their children, Jacob and Genevieve. She also leaves behind a host of other family members, friends and youth group teenagers, who loved, laughed and enjoyed life together.
Heidi had epic hair, epic loyalty, epic adventures, and an epic love for her family. Heidi, we love you. We know you are with Jesus, and we eagerly await the day when we will be reunited with you again.
A Celebration of Life will be held May 22, at 2 p.m. at Hillcrest Church, 1400 Larrabee Ave., Bellingham, Washington. Livestream www.hcbellingham.com and recording of the service will be available on Hillcrest Church social media channels. Graveside service will be held for family and close friends who are unable to attend the service on Thursday, May 18.