Gospel Greats Founder Paul Heil Passes Away

A Message From Shelia Heil

Our hearts are heavy as we try to understand how quickly life changes. On Sunday, we did our three-mile-walk and two hours later Paul had moved from this world to another eternal world. We celebrate his life and rejoice that he made it Home. We mourn for our loss. Following is the obituary. Thanks for your support and especially for your prayers.

Throughout January, please enjoy classic The Gospel Greats programs airing at their normal time(s) as we revisit the “Best of the ’70s,” ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s.

-Shelia Heil

 Paul Samuel Heil, 73, passed away at his residence on Sunday, December 27, 2020, following a heart attack. Born in Reading, PA, he was the son of the late Rev. David Paul and Virginia M. Gaul Heil. He was married to Shelia Kay Troyer Heil for 38 years.

Paul graduated from McCaskey High School in 1965 and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Elizabethtown College in 1969. During his college years, Paul created a college radio network serving a dozen college radio stations in Southeastern Pennsylvania. He worked as an award-winning news director at WGAL Radio from 1969-1977 and WGAL TV from 1977-1979.

Paul, the founder of The Gospel Greats syndicated radio program, has been a fixture in Southern Gospel Music since 1980. It was the first Southern Gospel radio program accepted by the Armed Forces Radio network. He was a founder and nine term President of the Southern Gospel Music Guild, served on the Southern Gospel Music Association Advisory Board and was a member of the Pennsylvania Southern Gospel Music Association. Paul started Springside Marketing, a Southern Gospel mail order company that he managed for 34 years. At Rohrerstown Mennonite Church, he was in leadership and a lay preacher. He is a member of the Lancaster Church of the Nazarene where he preached four weeks ago. He enjoyed home renovation projects and walked regularly with his wife.

During the program’s 40 years, Paul was recognized as the best-known radio voice in Southern Gospel music and was awarded every radio broadcasting award possible in the genre. Paul’s awards for this work include The Singing News Fan Awards from 1987 to 2005, the Marvin Norcross Award for lifetime accomplishment in 1991, the SGMG’s “Hearts Aflame” Award in 1997 and “The Paul Heil Award” was established in 2000. Paul was inducted into the Pennsylvania Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2003. For his lifetime work, he received the “James D. Vaughan Impact Award” in 2004 from the SGMA. SGNScoops Magazine presented their highest honor to Paul in 2007 for outstanding contributions and impact in the world of Southern Gospel Music. The Southern Gospel Music Guild presented Paul with their “Lifetime Achievement Award” in 2009. In 2014, Paul was inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

He is survived by his wife Shelia and his two sons: Jason D. Heil and Andrew T. Heil (Meredith Talbert), both of Lancaster, his brother, John T. Heil (Sue Fry), Strasburg, and a niece and nephew. Paul was a loving grandfather to his two grandchildren, Tahlia and Rhys Heil.

A public viewing will take place at Lancaster Church of the Nazarene, 2150 New Holland Pike, Lancaster on Friday, January 1st, 2021 from 2-4 PM. A funeral service for Paul will be private for invited guests only. It will be livestreamed, at for all to view on Saturday, January 2nd, 2021 at 10:30 AM. Interment will take place at Conestoga Memorial Park.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame and Museum, PO Box 6729, Sevierville, TN 37864-6729.

Please visit Paul’s Memorial Page at

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Absolutely Gospel Music
Formed over 19 years ago by Deon & Susan Unthank originally as, the site was birthed from an email discussion group by the same name. The SoGospelNews email discussion list was created by the Unthanks after the Singing News shut down its extremely popular discussion list. SoGospelNews started as a simple webpage listing artists, fans, individuals, etc. that were avid supporters of the newly formed SoGospelNews talk list. The site eventually took on printing news for Southern Gospel artists, and eventually took on reviewing the latest recordings from both signed and independent artists within the small genre. SoGospelNews became the most viewed Southern Gospel website on the Internet with over 4,000,000 hits per month.

The Unthank family are now involved in the site, as well as the addition of over two dozen staff writers. The website is based out of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. In April 2010, SoGospelNews changed its name to The name change allows them to cover news items of not only Southern Gospel, but also Country Gospel, Inspirational, and Black Gospel.

On January 5, 2011, Susan Unthank passed away, leaving the website in control of Deon, their son, Chris, and their daughter Amy.