Obituary: Robert Joseph Heckman
November 5, 1945 – April 13, 2022
Robert Joseph Heckman, 76, of Park City, Utah,?husband and adventure-sharer of Sharon Bower?Heckman, passed away on April 13, 2022 from?prostate cancer. Bob was born in Scranton, PA?on November 5, 1945 the son of Mary C.?(Kearney) and Robert E. Heckman and older?brother of James and Thomas Heckman. He?grew up in Mechanicsburg, PA. attending a one?room school house in first grade, St Joseph?Grade School and Bishop McDevitt High School?where he lettered in swimming. He attended?nearly every 5 year reunion to nourish old?friendships. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in?Mechanical Engineering from The Catholic University of America where he was a dean’s list student active in honorary, professional and fraternal societies as well as captain of the wrestling team. To earn his way through college he worked summer and school jobs as a motorcycle mechanic, bread salesman, fallout shelter analyst, draftsman, laborer, dish washer, lab technician and Naval weapons researcher always learning much from each of these. Before starting his professional career he earned a Master’s of Aeronautical Engineering from The University of Arizona on a full scholarship. As he was an aviation enthusiast, flying model airplanes as a youth, he landed his dream job with Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, CT. At Pratt, he continued his education at nights earning an MBA and experienced many job assignments including engineering R&D, recruiting, labor relations, marketing and his favorite, a start-up consortium of European and Asian companies, where he assisted airlines in preparing to operate new aircraft engines in their fleet and maintain safe, economical operations. This job included much international travel to customers in Europe, Africa and Asia, a 7 month assignment to India and a 3 year assignment to Australia where Sharon and he raced sailboats together in Sydney Harbour and were invited to join the Australian team at the worlds championships in Sweden. Bob respected and loved the many cultures he got to experience and took Sharon along on some new aircraft deliveries out of Toulouse, France.
Sailing and skiing became a big part of Bob and Sharon’s life in Connecticut. He bought a Sunfish sailboat in his first year there and joined the Bolton Lake Sailing Club to take up racing. This led to many life long friendships and years of participating in local, US and international events with Sharon as shore support. Eventually she suggested they get a cruising boat to do this together on the water. Early in their relationship Bob taught Sharon how to ski, at which she became very accomplished. Nearly every winter weekend was spent up north with a weeks-long ski vacation out west. Summers now turned into weekend cruises to Block Island and other New England ports. They sold their boat when they were assigned to Australia but upon returning they started making long range plans for retirement. These included finding the right cruising boat and planning for 5 years of cruising followed by 5 years of skiing.
During this time, Bob also earned a Master’s of Science in Oceanography to get more familiar with his soon to be new environment. The boat chosen was a Hylas 46 cutter rig sailboat that the two of them sailed from the US Atlantic coast from Maine to St Vincent with occasional stops in Bermuda. Some side trips on a friend’s boat included Panama, Columbia and Curacao which extended this sailing segment to 8 years! They then found Park City where Sharon worked as a mountain host and Bob as a ski instructor. They also enjoyed mountain biking and hiking the great trails and slot canyons of the West. In addition, Bob volunteered as a tour guide at the Natural History Museum of Utah.
Along with wife Sharon, Bob is survived by his brother James (and Ruth) Heckman of Guilford, CT; their children Jim (and Ivan) Heckman of Los Angelos CA and Amy (and Steve) Hitzrot and their children Xavier and Leah of Sterling MA; his brother Thomas (and Sue) Heckman of Timonium, MD and his children Trent (and Michelle) Heckman of Harrisburg PA and Nichole Heckman of New Cumberland PA and cousin Wendy Heckman (and Sean McKenna) of Salem, NH.
A celebration of Bob’s life with family and friends will be announced in late spring.
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