Paul Heller (May 11, 1948 – January 18, 2010)

January 24, 2010 in Extension, Research, Teaching

Paul was born in Wooster, OH, on May 11, 1948 to Robert and Mabel (Haas) Heller. He attended the Wooster Public Schools, graduating from Wooster Public High School in 1964. He received his Ph.D. in entomology from Ohio State in 1976, M.S. in entomology from Ohio State in 1972, and B.A. in biology from Malone College in 1970. Paul was a professor of entomology, having joined The Pennsylvania State University as a faculty member in 1976. He co-authored the publication Turfgrass Insect and Mite Manual. His research focused on conventional and biorational management of annual bluegrass weevil, black cutworm, bluegrass billbug, hairy chinch bug, nuisance ant, and scarab white grubs. His extension appointment included turfgrass and Christmas tree integrative pest management. Paul was very active in his career at Penn State University as a professor of entomology, where he was employed for 33 years. He was especially gifted and intuitive when it came to mentoring students, and he made a tremendous difference in many of their lives and career paths. His work with golf course superintendents and other stakeholders was something he really enjoyed, becoming personal friends with many of them over the years.

He was constantly striving to improve his classes for the benefit of the students and spent a lot of personal time in that endeavor. In addition to instructing the two and four year courses he was actively involved in the creation and teaching of his World Campus on-line classes, and was always especially interested to note that his students attended his courses from countries around the world, once even from a Navy ship in the Gulf. He loved working as a volunteer DJ at the local Christian radio station, WTLR, which he did for many years, and was known affectionately by hundreds of listeners as “Uncle Paul.” Even though he traveled extensively for his work, after his marriage to June Harder on May 19, 1990, his interest in traveling took a different turn as he and June did some extensive traveling together, the highlight of which was spending two weeks in New Zealand. He especially enjoyed taking one- and two-day trips to various places in Pennsylvania and the surrounding states, frequently acting as chauffeur for June, taking her to wherever she expressed an interest to visit. The greatest gifts with which he was blessed were the support and uncanny intuition he was always ready to share. This showed up in so many ways to so many people and he was frequently to be found listening attentively to the confidences of people he had just met. He was unfailingly supportive of June in any and all of her endeavors and was her biggest and most reliable cheerleader. Above all, he was generous with all his resources and was always thinking of others first.

He was preceded in death by his parents and grandparents. Paul is survived by his wife, June Heller of Spring Mills, PA; a brother, David (Deb) Heller and their two children, Andrew and Eric of Wooster, OH; a cousin, Bill (Carol) Heller of Shreve,OH; many other relatives and friends.

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