John Franklin (Jack) Heller, Jr. died June 18, 2019 at the age of 97. He lived a long and rewarding life. He loved his family, his friends and community, his “hunting type dogs”, fly fishing, riding his bike, sailing, and music.
He was an officer in the U.S. Navy in World War II, serving in the South Pacific. His ship was involved in two invasions for which he received battle stars. Following the war Jack returned to Denison where he completed his B.A. and, most importantly, met his wife, Jane Carstensen. After graduate school Jack joined Republic Franklin Insurance Company in Columbus as an underwriter and was among the first in the country to earn the professional designation of Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter. Jack started the property division of RFI in 1955 and retired as President and CEO in 1987.
Throughout his career and retirement Jack was committed to creating solutions to community needs. He was a founding member of the Hospice of Licking County board, serving two years as president. During his tenure he started an endowment fund that helped sustain and grow the organization (now Hospice of Central Ohio). Later, Jack and Jane, along with dear friends David and Dee Richards, worked for more than 10 years to establish and build the continuing care retirement community Kendal at Granville.
Jack’s wife Jane, his children Nancy, Anne (Gary) Schreiber, John (Cindy), and Jane, and his five grandchildren share happy memories of Jack’s humor and humility. Respecting Jack’s wishes, there will be no service; memorials to Kendal at Granville’s Caring Friends Fund or Hospice of Central Ohio will help to carry on his legacy. Jack’s family wants to thank the wonderful staff at Kendal for always treating him with dignity and compassion.
Remembering Jack Heller by Dr. David Woodyard
Among the characteristics in Jack Heller I admired, one stands out: he wasn’t stuck on himself. He could have been; his accomplishments were legion. But Jack was too authentic a human being to engage in self-promotion. And in the worst of times, he never articulated “poor me”. His own needs and desires never took precedence over those of others. Jack was a master at getting outside himself. And the consequence of that was an ability to “be there” for others. Nothing in his life got in the way of embracing them - their needs and aspirations. If you ran into Jack on Broadway in Granville, he never unloaded his concerns. He welcomed you. He was always ready for a real relationship. Jack would flick his eye brow and open himself to you. And nothing in him stood in the way of civic engagement; Kendal and Hospice are evidence of that.
Jack Heller had a gift for sharing in a social project, effectively and unobtrusively. He and Dave Richards pulled off a miracle in the Village that does not court change! There is a widely shared addiction to the present and perpetuating it is a mission. Obstacles to Kendal were in abundant supply and resistance was a virtue! Hospice is widely embraced now, but in the earlier day, the opposition of various professionals and institutions was relentless. Only a Jack Heller would be clever enough to “dodge the bullets” and get it up and running. His predecessor challenged the opposition, but Jack out smarted it – with both skills and charm. Hospice is because Jack Heller was. Because he was not “stuck on himself” he was a master at opening closed doors.
One also has to hold up the obvious: Jack was a family man in the best sense. Fortunately, he had a tough and focused wife because he was a softy when it came to his kids. Some parents act as role models for their son and daughters – and with an egotistical thrust present themselves as the embodiment of excellence. They elevate the bar with self-references. What is interesting about Jack is that was not driven by aspirations for his children. That often serves as a reward for your own achievements in their lives. Jack was a rare parent in that none of his needs were filled in their lives. In a very quiet and unpretentious way, he identified a deficit and unobtrusively addressed it. He had a gift for doing what was needed, uniquely, in each life. He made them more whole – and they never knew it. Unlike most of us, Jack Heller never had a “needs deficient” self and ego that exploited his relationship to the family – or with others as well.
Now Joanne and I lived next to Jack and Jane for some 25 years. No marriage is perfect, but theirs came close. Some would wonder how a CEO, baron of industry, and imaginative artist could integrate and navigate over sixty some years. But they did. Their relationship was not a 50/50 one, with compromises and concessions. It was a 100/100 with two different and dedicated persons together without compromising or domineering. In recent months, health made it a 90/10 arrangement. And Jack Heller got all the stored up love and care he needed and deserved. Jane was heroic.
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Kendal at Granville Caring Friends Fund
2158 Columbus Rd. SW, Granville OH 43023
Foundation for Hospice of Central Ohio
P.O. Box 430, Newark OH 43058