David M. Heller Sr. died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Port Chester on April 19, 2019 with his wife Terry by his side. He was 83 years old.
He will be fondly remembered for creating the Rye Lions Club Athlete of the Month Award program and sadly missed at this year’s annual dinner next month at The Osborn at which the Athlete of the Year will be announced.
Mr. Heller’s first volunteer role with the Westchester County Swimming Association was as a timer at the County Championships at Playland Pool, and he went on to serve as the Meet Referee at both the Westchester County and Westchester Conference Swim Championships for decades. He was awarded the New York State Certified Officials’ Association Distinguished Service Award in 1999 and was inducted into the Westchester County Hall of Fame for his officiating accomplishments in 2013.
Longtime residents met and grew close to Dave Heller during the years he managed Chase Bank in Rye and served as President and CEO of Greenwood Union Cemetery.
Born on August 13, 1935 in New Brunswick, New Jersey, he was the oldest of Margaret Mary (Morris) and Stanley Earl Heller’s four children. He grew up in Jersey City and attended Saint Peter’s Prep from which he graduated in 1953. He remained very active with the Saint Peter’s Prep Alumni Association up until his death.
While attending college at night, he worked at Hanover Bank as a clerk in the Money Transfer and Wire Department. After graduating from Fordham University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Management in 1961, he worked as a clerk with the First National Bank of Yonkers in Getty Square. He also attended the Dale Carnegie School, the New York State Bankers Association Executive Development School, the American Institute of Banking, and the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University.
In 1962, he started working for the National Bank of Westchester (NBW), a Lincoln First Bank, as a cost accountant in the Controllers Department. The following year he became a computer programmer and worked in the bank’s Automation and Operations Division until 1972 at the bank’s offices in New Rochelle. During that time, he was promoted to Assistant Vice President. He was assigned to the Banking Division and was appointed Manager of NBW’s Central Avenue Office in White Plains in 1973. He was subsequently appointed Manager of the bank’s Larchmont Office where he worked for many years. During that time, NBW was bought out by Chase Manhattan Bank and Mr. Heller was eventually appointed Manager of the bank’s Rye office on Purchase Street, where he worked until his retirement. During his many years as a bank branch manager, he touched the lives of thousands of customers throughout Westchester County.
As a member of local business communities, he became very involved with civic and volunteer organizations. He was an active member of the Lions Club in both Larchmont and Rye and served on the board of Greenwood Union Cemetery. In addition, he maintained all the financial records for the Larchmont Manor Park Association.
On June 28, 1958 he married Theresa Ellen O’Brien of Rye at Resurrection Church. This summer they would have celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary. Terry taught nursing at BOCES for 40 years and was the school nurse at SUNY Purchase for 20 years.
The Hellers spent the first five years of their married life in an apartment in Yonkers before purchasing their first house and moving to Rye in 1964. They happily raised their five children — David Jr., Kevin, John, Carol Ann, and Kathleen (Kate) — in Rye. When Dave was elected president of Greenwood Union Cemetery, they moved to a house on the cemetery grounds, where they lived for 20 years.
Three of the Heller children, Kevin, John, and Carol Ann graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point; David Jr. graduated from Holy Cross College, and Kate from Fairfield University. Two of their thirteen grandchildren are currently serving on active duty with the U.S. Army and one grandchild is a student at West Point. Last year, Dave and Terry were honored at West Point for perfect attendance at home games for the last 39 years.
David and Terry joined Rye Golf Club in 1966 and all of their children participated on the Club’s swim team and helped the team win numerous Westchester County Swimming Championships.
In 2010, Mr. Heller retired as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Greenwood Union Cemetery after twenty years of distinguished service, and Terry and Dave moved to their current home in Port Chester.
An active member of Resurrection Church for over 50 years, Mr. Heller assisted with numerous fundraisers and special events and served as a lector for over forty years.
A loving husband, an always supportive and caring father and grandfather, a dedicated and hard-working employee, an enthusiastic community volunteer, and an experienced and highly qualified swimming official who was always available to mentor and engage with fellow officials, Dave Heller was a friend to everyone he encountered every day of his life.
A Mass of Christian Burial was held April 24 at Resurrection Church. Donations in David M. Heller’s memory made be made to St. Jude’s Children’s’ Research Hospital.