OBITUARY

Jeffrey Merwin Heller

December 24, 1939January 8, 2019

Jeffrey Merwin Heller of Dallas, Texas, passed away at his home on January 8, 2019. He is survived by Carol Franklin Heller, his wife of 55 years; his daughter, Debbie Heller Myers, also of Dallas; his brothers, John and wife, Marshall Heller of Cary, NC; Tom and Shelia Heller of Rockwall; sister, Beth Avery of Round Rock; sister in-law, Joan and AJ Phipps of Houston; daughter in-law, Kristi Heller Green and husband, Dennis of Denver; grandsons, Austin Heller and his wife Kathryn of Dallas and Denver; Brandon Heller of Denver and Ford Myers of Dallas. Jeff was preceded in death by his parents, Martha and Merwin Heller of Tyler; son, Jeffrey Scott Heller of Dallas; his in-laws, Gerry and “B” Franklin of Baytown and brother in-law, Charles Avery of Round Rock. Growing up in Tyler with his fun- loving family and friends, the Hoot Owl Creek Gang and Razzers, Jeff had many exciting adventures. The Heller kids, Jeff, Mutt, Poo, and Beth, were known throughout Tyler. Jeff’s interest in sports participation began early, competing in swimming at age eight at Camp Longhorn under the influence of legendary Tex Robertson. His sports abilities seemed unlimited. In addition to winning state finals in swimming, he also lettered in football and basketball. Success in sports led Jeff to a four year swimming scholarship to the University of Texas in Austin under the leadership of Hank Chapman. He was conference champion in several events and made All American in 1958 and 1959. At UT he was active in the Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity, leading to lifelong friendships. In 1960, Jeff joined the United States Marine Corps where he trained in the naval base at Pensacola, Florida, earning his wings and was commissioned in 1963. Although assigned to Cherry Point, NC, he served in Japan and Okinawa before beginning his tour of duty in Vietnam in 1964 and 1965. In addition to his carrier-based flying missions, he helped found the Officers Club in Da Nang, Vietnam, and was promoted to first lieutenant and captain during this period. After five years as a Marine, Jeff returned to UT and earned a BBA before joining EDS and Ross Perot in Dallas, Texas, in 1968. Jeff helped to develop new EDS offices in Pennsylvania, California, New York, Massachusetts, Iowa, Indiana, and Minnesota. After his work in New York with the financial brokerage business, Jeff took over leadership of EDS’ National Medicare and Medicaid sections in Dallas. In 1984, General Motors partnered with EDS to combine their data processing systems. Jeff was commissioned to smooth the transition. By 1991, EDS began doing business in Asia as Japan-American, which became Jeff’s responsibility. Jeff served as Chairman of this independent company. After serving as Chairman of EDS Australia, Jeff became President and Chief Operating Officer of EDS in 1996, when he became Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors. In 2002, Jeff retired, but was called back and remained in that leadership role until “retiring” again in 2008. The relationships that were formed during his time at EDS were as close as family. During his retirement, Jeff officed at MHT Partners, a business investment company where he enjoyed close relationships with young business professionals. During and after his active business years, Jeff served as a board member for a spectrum of companies including Mutual of Omaha, Temple Inland, Trammel Crow, Unigraphics, Westcott Communications and Hitachi Data Systems. Beyond his business leadership, he also served as a Trustee of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Southwest Medical Foundation, and served his church on both the Pastor Parish Committee and the Finance Committee. Very active as a University of Texas Alumni, Jeff was awarded as a Distinguished Graduate of the University of Texas. He served on the UT President’s Research Council, the Littlefield Society, the McComb School of Business Board, and the Chancellors Council. He was Chair of both the Longhorn Foundation and the UT Engineering Foundation. He was active in the Cotton Bowl Association. Jeff was elected to the UT Hall of Honor and served as Chairman, and was also President of the “T” Association. While serving in the Marines, Jeff married Carol Franklin in 1963, who he met at The University of Texas. Together they had two children, Jeffrey Scott Heller and Debbie Ann Heller. Carol and Jeff made Dallas their home for many years. They enjoyed traveling and attending sporting and cultural events together. Jeff always found time in his life to actively pursue golf, fishing, hunting and skiing. Some of this activity took him to very interesting parts of the world. He was active in a large number of Dallas organizations, University of Texas, and professional organizations, almost always in a leadership role. He was an active member of Dallas Country Club, Dallas Petroleum Club, Northwood Club, University of Texas Golf Club, and Beaver Creek Club. He enjoyed time spent on the golf course with friends, especially with the Oilees. With all of Jeff’s accomplishments, he’s mostly remembered for his love for his friends and family. At the top of the list was his love for his wife, Carol. They were a team and enjoyed doing many things together. They had wonderful trips to various parts of the world. They treasured time spent with the family. Scott and Debbie enjoyed a special relationship with their father, including playing sports, traveling and attending Texas and Cowboy games. Precious time was devoted to their grandchildren, Austin, Brandon, and Ford. Jeff served as a role model and hero to his grandchildren. Whether it was on the ski slopes or teaching them to play poker, Jeff took individual time with each grandson. A celebration of Jeff’s life will be held on January 17th at 1:00 pm at Highland Park United Methodist Church, 3300 Mockingbird Lane, Dallas, Texas, 75205. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be directed to the charity of your choice.

Services

  • Memorial Service Thursday, January 17, 2019
REMEMBERING

Jeffrey Merwin Heller

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Joan Trusty

March 28, 2019

What a walk down memory lane to read all the names and stories! I joined EDS in 1984 as a young lawyer and worked with Jeff on and off for a number of years. He and I used to swim laps at the same time in the pool at Forest Lane and he could swim two laps to my one. I was always surprised that he remembered who I was. His slow and thoughtful way of speaking, his insightful questions that always moved things along, his refusal to shy away from the truth or the hard facts... I remember a career talk we once had, where he challenged me on a planned change of focus and wanted to understand why I had made my decision. He was the best of the best, the one you could always trust to do the right thing, to be a person of integrity and honor. Even if the decisions were hard, you knew he cared about the people who were impacted. He was the standard against which I have measured all the leaders I have worked with and for. I am grateful to have known Jeff, a real prince among men.

Dom Donato

March 17, 2019

I met Jeff in the mid 70's when I was in charge of sales to EDS as the major account manager for my company. Jeff and I had many meetings which led
to our becoming friends.
Jeff impressed me with his knowledge and his down to earth way of making things happen in a positive and humble way.

Jeff: you are a good guy and will always be;so be at peace with our Lord.
My condolences to all in your family and God bless them.

Suzanne Coghill

January 28, 2019

I remember how relieved I was whyJeff agreed to come back to EDS. He was an honourable and ethical man and I felt confident that he would restore EDS to some semblance of its cultural integrity after some very disappointing years. I was privileged to hear him speak at an awards presentation and to meet him very briefly on a visit to Dallas. He was a man to be greatly admired and sorely missed. RIP Jeff.

Patsy Stickel

January 17, 2019

Thank you being an example to us GMer’s what EDS was all about. A true gentleman. My sympathies to the family.

Terry Henry

January 17, 2019

Even though Jeff Heller was one of the most accomplished men I’ve ever met, he was also very humble. On many different occasions he spent time with my brother and I, guiding us in the direction that we should take a project that we created.

Every time I’ve spoke of Mr Heller, I speak of his humility. As I travel through life, I pray that I will have this mans humility and integrity.

ROBERT D ALLEN

January 17, 2019

HE WAS THE BEST OF THE BEST.

Many great ones in senior EDS ranks. He always took time to talk with all …….. even the little guys.

One conversation between us I told him I hoped my epitaph would read, "HE WAS A LOT LIKE JEFF HELLER."

Robert

Ed Kettler

January 17, 2019

Jeff touched many lives, and the wonderful stories show what a truly remarkable person Jeff was.

My favorite memory of Jeff was when he rejoined EDS in 2003. The announcement hadn't come out yet, and there he was in the cafeteria, surrounded by well wishers. The faces were bright, the mood energized ... Jeff was back, EDS was back! It was remarkable what his return did for the morale of the team.

Sharon Baroody

January 16, 2019

To Carol Heller and the Heller Family,

We extend our heartfelt condolences to you today. We also pray that you will find peace and comfort as memories are shared, as you see how beloved Jeff is and as you are reminded of the positive impact he had on so many. Thank you for the sacrifices you've made as a family and for sharing him with us throughout all of these years.

We are grateful for Jeff Heller, who was truly the heart of EDS. A servant leader, he was an inspiration to many and exemplified those values that EDS aspired towards. For those of us still at EDS at the time of his return, you'll remember the joy we all felt when we heard "Jeff was back".

Thank you for all that you've done for us, fellow EDSer. Rest in Peace, Jeff.

Bradley Cope

January 16, 2019

I read all the great things said about Jeff Heller. I found him to be all those things and more. Adding to that, Jeff was always learning. He read books and sought consulting on how to approach the massive changes going on in the industry and EDS. He would always ask: “so, what did YOU learn?” and would eagerly share what he learned. Jeff brought Jim Thoreson back to EDS and I was lucky to be part of that team.

Jeff quickly learned how to handle his newfound executive power. He said people, even some of the people he’d known for years, treated him differently now. In reality, as others have cited, Jeff still remained approachable. However, he did say that he cut way back on yanking people’s chains.

He was always a deliberate speaker, but in his executive position he learned to be VERY careful of what he said and asked for. Example: when I asked Jeff if he could get some priority from one of his managers to provide numbers for a slide deck, he said “if I ask those guys for any info, even if I was just momentarily curious, they would build a team and a process to deliver a package every week, and would want to set up a meeting to present it.” He called the manager anyway and we got the numbers…every week. He never let me live that down.

Occasionally, I joined Jeff in the Plano cafeteria at lunch. He usually sat in the south dining area because all the other muckety mucks liked to sit in the north. One day I felt a tap on the shoulder. Jeff said get your lunch and come find me in the south side. When I asked what he wanted to discuss, Jeff said “if so-and-so comes by to chat, we tell him that we are in an important meeting and can’t be disturbed”.

Jeff was human. At lunch one day after returning from a heart attack, Jeff meticulously crushed Doritos with his fork and sprinkled the crumbs on his bland food. “Don’t knock it till you try it, Cope. That’s all the flavor the doctor will let me have.”

You were a great mentor, Jeff. Say hey to Thoreson and Casey.

waldemar(wally) Rodriguez

January 16, 2019

I was very fortunate to work for Jeff on 3 occasions during my 20 years at EDS. Jeff talked the talk but most importantly he walked the talk. One of the few people I would work for with no questions asked. You will be missed the heavens have gained we have lost.

FROM THE FAMILY