My roommate Doug Heller


Long ago, way before most of you were born, I drove from a Chicago suburb to Palo Alto, California to attend Stanford University.

My father, who believed everyone should be as forthright as he was, bought me a brand new metallic blue 1949 Ford (at dealer’s cost, $1400) and said goodbye.

I was young, just 17 by just a week when I graduated from Niles Township High School, and driving 1600 miles alone was somewhat terrifying. I arrived there the night before registration, checked into a motel, and spent the night in high anxiety.

The next day I registered…not feeling any better when I saw how much older everyone looked. I was 5 foot 3 inches, weighed about 95 pounds, had huge horned-rimmed glasses and looked about 14.

I met my roommates at Encina Hall: one a veteran (Benny was 22, in school as a freshman under the GI Bill) and the other Doug. Doug was a year and a half older than me, looked like a college student with a great smile and a manner that put me entirely at ease. And thus started a great year at a great school.

We remained in touch afterwards; Doug was a member of one of the great families of San Francisco; he married his college sweetheart Mary who was so pretty she took your breath away.

When Hal and I and Peggy started BASS Tickets, Doug’s company was our insurance carrier; he also invested in BASS and was a little tolerant during the bad times when we were late on our premiums…..I think he advanced them out of his pocket. We lived and died by the fortunes of Stanford football which, unlike today, was pretty bad then. And Doug, I believe, headed the alumni fund raising for the University.

After we sold BASS (and Doug and the other investors came out spectacularly well) we still touched base, but not nearly as often….I last spoke to him a few years back and we laughed and talked about the days.

Doug’s obituary was in the San Francisco Chronicle today. He died of cancer during Thanksgiving week.

It takes us our lifetime to get used to death of our contemporaries; not just our grandparents, uncles and others.

Just give a friend a hug today for no damn reason.

One comment on “My roommate Doug Heller

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