My friend Jack Heinsohn died on January 11th at 81. I'm sure he identified York as being his 'home town'. He was with the circus which wintered in York. His Father was a well-known tight rope walker and did a show-stopping act in every town they played.
Jack's early experience was as the smallest clown and he was as cute as a button, competing friendly-like with Baron Novak, the world's smallest man who attended W.T.S.
As he grew he did all sorts of circus jobs and ended as a high wire performer. Jack participated in most of York High's athletics and excelled in Football.
He lived at "Copper" Bennett's home, in downtown York, and was treated as family. The Bennett Brothers created their own circus, but that's another story.
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After Jack reached manhood he joined a well established trapeze troupe in California. I believe it was called The Flying Christianis or something similar. It was during this very successful time in his life that he returned to York at the same time that three of the Bennett boys were heading for Erskine College. Jack went with them and stayed, eventually graduating from the Seminary there.
Dr. Heinsohn filled a great variety of pulpits for many diverse parishioners eventually becoming Senior Minister of Immanuel Presbyterian Church, the largest Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles where he served with his assistant, Stanley Bennett.
Over the years the "showman" genes in Jack flourished and his famous "Clown Sermon" evolved. In it he started his talk by opening his makeup kit, taking out his makeup and clown costume and as he spoke about his Christian conversion and other life experiences he morphed from a well-dressed, cleancut preacher into Bozo the Clown.
Everyone who lived in York during the time Jack Heinsohn lived among us will miss him and remember his smile and gentleness. He and all of the circus folk who adopted York were not only fine citizens, they were our friends.
Dr. Heinsohn is survived by his wife Martha Lauderdale; two daughters, Pat Heinsohn, of Gallup N.M. and Amy McLain and her husband Brian of Scottsdale, Ariz.; three sons, Walter Heinsohn and his wife Susan of Rock Hill; Dr. Jack Heinsohn, Jr. and his wife Jennie of Lancaster, Ohio and Eric Heinsohn and his wife Rosy of Charlottesville, Va.; and a whole bunch of grandchildren and great grand children.