Warren Heyer, 79 librarian was anti-war, community activist
Newspaper Obituary and Death Notice
San Diego Union-Tribune, The (CA) - September 5, 2003
Deceased Name: Warren Heyer, 79 librarian was anti-war, community activist
For Warren Heyer, community activism was a way of life.
It surfaced in the way he opposed development of the hydrogen bomb and the Vietnam War. It flourished in his successful campaign to empower faculty members at San Diego Mesa College. And it persisted in his efforts on behalf of the Encanto neighborhood, which he called home for nearly 40 years.
Mr. Heyer, retired chairman of the Library Department at Mesa College, died Aug. 26 at his home in Serra Mesa, where he had lived for six years. He was 79.
The cause of death was complications from a stroke he suffered in Chichicastenango, Guatemala, where he was helping to build a church with fellow members of a humanitarian organization.
In 1975, Mr. Heyer rallied his Encanto community to petition the City Council to rezone the neighborhood. At issue was the character of a semi-urban enclave, one punctuated by rolling hills and open space.
Responding to the petition, the City Council changed the zoning from multifamily to single-family lots, preserving the half-acre to 1-acre-plus properties typical of the square-mile section of Encanto Hills in which Mr. Heyer lived.
Mr. Heyer, who was vice chairman of the Southeast San Diego Development Committee, went door-to-door to gain support for the measure. "He fought like you couldn't believe," said daughter Kathryn Frank.
Although he moved to Serra Mesa after marrying Patricia Robson in 1997, he kept his Encanto home until his death. "It was on an acre, with a view of the ocean," Frank said.
Mr. Heyer, a San Diegan for more than 50 years, was born in Seattle.
He attended Western Washington College in Bellingham before being drafted into the Army. Originally assigned to the quartermaster corps in Riverside, he later was transferred to the infantry to meet mounting demands overseas.
He saw 60 days of combat with Gen. George S. Patton's 3rd Army and took part in the liberation of a Nazi concentration camp, Frank said.
The experience changed his life. Determined to spare future generations the horrors he had witnessed, he became an ardent anti-war activist.
In 1950, Mr. Heyer graduated from San Diego State College with a bachelor's degree in education and began a career as an elementary school teacher. Two years later he married a fellow educator, Roberta Calvert.
Taking a leave of absence from the San Diego Unified School District, Mr. Heyer earned a master's degree in librarianship at the University of Southern California. He then served as a librarian at San Diego High School and San Diego City College.
When Mesa College was founded in 1964, he became a member of its founding faculty and served on its first faculty senate. One of the first items on the agenda was a measure that he wrote suggesting that departments be permitted to elect their own chairmen.
The measure was approved by Mesa College President Robert F. Heilbron, and Mr. Heyer was elected chairman of the Library Department, a capacity in which he served until retiring in 1979.
After retiring, he manned the school's reference desk each Wednesday night as an adjunct librarian. He also offered library orientation classes to new students.
He indulged his flair for acting by studying drama at Mesa and took part in several productions, playing the part of Kit Carson in "The Time of Your Life" and Joe Keller in "All My Sons."
After taking private voice lessons, he sang tenor arias from several operas on his 70th and 75th birthdays at United Church of Christ in Lemon Grove.
Politically, Mr. Heyer joined his first wife in supporting school-integration and open-housing issues. In 1962, he and fellow protesters of the hydrogen bomb marched throughout the county to further their cause.
During the Vietnam War, he renewed his commitment to peace. On one march, which followed news of Vietnamese Buddhists incinerating themselves in protest, Mr. Heyer's group engendered the wrath of a veterans organization. The veterans picketed the march and offered the protesters gasoline cans in a symbolic gesture.
Mr. Heyer also supported environmental causes in California and Mexico, reflecting a vigorous, outdoors-oriented lifestyle that included hiking, backpacking, camping and cycling.
He built a cabin in Rosarito Beach, Baja California, and joined his first wife, a landscape artist, in taking summer school classes in Mexico. He became fluent in Spanish and had a command of Portuguese, Frank said.
Mr. Heyer's first wife died of cancer in January 1996.
Survivors include his second wife, Patricia; daughters, Kathryn Rebecca Frank of La Jolla and Robin Kuntzelman of Bozeman, Mont.; son, Andrew Heyer of Mission Viejo; and eight grandchildren.
Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. tomorrow at United Church of Christ, Lemon Grove. Interment will be at La Vista Memorial Park, National City.
Donations are suggested to Greenpeace; United Church of Christ, 2770 Glebe Road, Lemon Grove, CA 91945; or Friends of Guatemala.
Jack Williams: (619) 542-4587;
Warren HeyerAuthor: Jack Williams
Copyright (c) 2003 Union Tribune Publishing Co.
The mother of Warren Calvin Heyer was Novella Byrd (1898-1989). She died in San Diego County, California but her burial site has not yet been located.
Roberta Maude Calvert Heyer
1919–1996 (m. 1952)
Irving A Heyer
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