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Remembering Harry Heisler

Wife mourns husband of 28 years.

— Ask Evelyn Heisler what made her husband Harry so special to her, and she answers without hesitation. "He had a razor-sharp wit and a brilliant sense of humor and he made me laugh every day," she said.

But Harry died of a heart attack, Sept. 28, two weeks before his 59th birthday. Now, his wife is preparing to scatter his ashes in the Atlantic Ocean, off south Nags Head, N.C., where they own a beach house.

"The plan was to sell our home here [in the Pleasant Valley community] and retire to North Carolina," said Evelyn. "But now I’m remaining in Chantilly."

Harry Heisler was born in Buffalo, N.Y., but he and his wife and their daughter Sarah, 23, who now lives and works in Richmond, lived in Chantilly for years. He became well-known locally for trying to protect his community from what he and others viewed as infringements.

"Harry was the one who traveled to Richmond to speak to bureaucrats about school-bus safety on Pleasant Valley Road, some years ago," said Evelyn Heisler. Local politicians also joined the fight and, eventually, through commercial trucks were prohibited from driving on Pleasant Valley Road.

Much later, he and other members of his community protested a religious facility being built in their midst. They said the building was too large in relation to their homes, and they had serious concerns about the traffic it would bring. Harry Heisler represented Pleasant Valley in this matter, speaking before a land-use panel and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

He was also well-respected in his career in the computer industry. He got on board in its infancy during the early 1980s. Rising through the ranks of various computer companies, he was vice president of marketing at GTSI, ran Micron PC’s government division and was the federal account manager at Cisco until his retirement, three years ago.

"Harry was so proud when he got a coveted, federal-security clearance from the federal government, allowing him access to the CIA, Pentagon and the FBI," said Evelyn Heisler. "He knew high-ranking military personnel by their first names and eagerly shared his knowledge of sales and marketing with others just starting out. He mentored many of them, and they’re close friends to this day."

In his spare time, Harry Heisler enjoyed watching NFL football, plus TV programs about history and politics. He and his wife bowled together and liked escaping to their beach house. Years ago, when Evelyn Heisler was a flight attendant for TWA, "He traveled with me to fantastic destinations — Paris, Rome, Milan, Germany, England," she said. "We had our honeymoon in Tahiti."

Harry Heisler loved fast cars and was a proud owner of 911- and 924-model Porsches. "He rushed me to Alexandria Hospital in the 911 Porsche when our daughter was born in 1987," said Evelyn. "His last car was a bumblebee yellow, 2011 Boxster."

He was also diabetic and had high blood pressure, she said; and eventually, his heart failed, leaving his wife with what she describes as "crushing grief" following the loss of her "Honey Pie." The holidays were difficult for Evelyn Heisler and her sadness persists.

"It’s still pretty raw," she said. "But I’m keeping busy and I have a fantastic group of friends. Harry was a wonderful husband and terrific father and was close to his family."

Besides his wife and daughter, he’s survived by his father Ed, brothers Stuart and Mark and sister, Sandy. Donations in Harry Heisler’s memory may be made to Compass House, a nonprofit that provides safe shelter and services to runaway and homeless youth and teens. Go to www.compasshouse.org.