Deceased January 6, 2015

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50th Reunion Book Entry


In Memory

William E. “Bill” Heaton Jr., 76, passed away Jan. 6, 2015, at his home in Placentia, Calif., after a four-and-a-half year battle with cancer. Bill was born in Chicago, Ill., moved several times in his youth and graduated from Coral Gables (Fla.) High School. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Amherst College in 1960.

At Amherst, Bill was a tackle on the Amherst football team and a member of the rugby team. He received the game football from the October 1959 win over Wesleyan (6-0), to pave way to winning the Little Three that year. His boasts about rugby and their trip to Bermuda were inspiration for his daughter, Heather ’95, to join the rugby team during her time at Amherst. Bill was a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity where he earned the nickname “Cosmo” by his Beta brothers.

Jim Crowley ’60 remembers Bill as “bringing mirth to every situation he entered. A polished speaker, his mellifluous tones would regale private conversations and party groups with wit, lyrics and limericks, meant to entertain humorously. His nickname ‘Cosmo’ was bestowed by Beta brothers because of the overwhelming cosmopolitan airs he could summon instantly in social moments that demanded great ‘savoir-faire’ (e.g., a mixer with one of the neighboring schools).”

In his professional life, Bill touched many lives throughout the United States and Orange County through his career as a nonprofit fund development professional. Most recently, he served as vice president of advancement, Southern California College of Optometry, Fullerton for 20 years. Bill was a past president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Orange County Chapter, as well as the 1996 Outstanding Fundraising Professional. Among his many community involvements, Bill served as 2000-01 president of the Fullerton Chamber of Commerce and is a long-standing member of the Fullerton Rotary Club. He was a leader of numerous support organizations benefiting California State University, Fullerton College of the Arts and the City of Placentia.

He enjoyed international travel, museums, the arts and snorkeling. His footprints are on the profession of fundraising, the community and the lives of his colleagues. Bill’s legacy is as a loving husband and father, true friend, an encouraging colleague, a valued mentor, a trusted leader. He is survived by wife Milly, daughter Heather Heaton Wiederholt ’95 and her husband Sebastian, son William E. Heaton IV, sister Joy Connors and her husband Jim, stepdaughter Kristen Pearson and her husband Keith.

Heather Heaton Wiederholt ’95

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50th Reunion

60WilliamHeaton.jpg Shopping is a bore to me. But it is Milly’s way. Milly returned with three lamps and I was not surprised. She putters around making incremental progress. Two that don't fit the theme will later be returned. This is her style.

Our differing styles showed up in Rome too. I studied the itinerary for months. She simply stood astride the Spanish steps and noticed the way the colors and shapes blended in with the mellow skies. I followed the lines, the imagined history and logic. A few steps further we found the hall festooned with magnificent busts of long gone emperors. I was moved by the lineage, she by the cavernous hall. We are united by many shared interests but varied perspectives befitting an erstwhile Florida boy and California gal who still cringes from shakers.

Rotary is fun when you are recognized. We had a wonderful time at Rotary this week. Milly and I were one of four couples matched up in a re-creation of the Newlywed Game on Valentine’s Day. I prepared by constructing pithy statements about blended families and the financial realities in the current downturn. The questions, of course, were about covers (who hogs?), flowers (one quipped Pillsbury), and first dates. I missed the first date question by quite a bit.

Actually, we got together over sheep.

I was in Chicago in the summer of ’99 and toured the Cows on Parade extravaganza! Energized by the experience, I returned to Fullerton determined that we should have a parade of our own featuring ostriches. (Ostriches were raised and became an early attraction in the city because of the utility of their feathers for ladies’ bonnets.)

As the incoming president of the chamber of commerce, this 60WilliamHeaton2.jpg seemed like an ideal project, and Milly connected me with an artist—who quickly convinced me that we needed an animal with four legs. So, the three of us labored for a year on the papier mache prototypes, the fiberglass molds and the sponsorships. I was best suited for the latter task because of my experience in sales and marketing and utter lack of artistic skills (As I recall, they let me mix the papier mache.)

Families are a gas. Milly and I went to Vegas in January to spend two days with my 35 year old daughter who is on a three year assignment in Germany. It was my first extended conversation with her in eight months.

We have all read some interesting social literature. In the fifties it may have been The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit or The Lonely Crowd; later, it may have been Dr. Seuss and parenting books. Yet I don’t know that any of this helped my parenting skills. Like many, I clung to a few key tenets. Happily, one of these was education. So, my daughter went to Amherst/Darden (MBA) and my son to Middlebury/G. Washington (MA); and I credit these experiences with being major factors in shaping their lives and values.

I think loving Milly and our blended family – she has a daughter the same age as mine – has vastly improved my skills; but, I still admit to a passion for my work, enormous interest in civic opportunities and pride in board memberships.

Seventy is the new fifty!!! And, so it began last month. Another company retreat. An engaging perspective and break out groups. This time – for the last eighteen years – it was with the faculty of the Southern California College of Optometry.

Early in my business career with General Foods (eight years) the retreats were annual sales and marketing programs. They were predicated upon new strategies, insights, and reorganization that was sure to dazzle the competition. Later, with American Urban, we (management) met with a shrink. And, I recall one time in Canada on a fishing trip that the group leader had us line up according to the perceived rank order of each participant. This reminded me of my brief military stint where I was never senior enough to pull rank.

As a consultant on capital campaigns I pretty much led my own break out groups. We called them leadership gifts groups. Measured in years it was eight. Measured in dollars it exceeded two hundred and fifty million.

The last two decades have been the most fun!! Though still a wage earner and thrilled by moments of success, I have learned to take great satisfaction from the accomplishments of my associates. I feel part of a team as if I were still a member of the Amherst rugby, track, or football team.

My first thought after receiving Dave’s note was to ignore it or run for over. But I have presided over these type histories for 50-year classes for eighteen years so I knew better. However, I just don’t write too long or charmingly.

I imposed some rules. I would use journal style snippets and edit out philosophies, travelogue and resume items. My hope is that this conveys something of my marriage, career and our family. I’ll read your reflections with interest and affection.

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