Heller, Andrew James “Jim” Age 94 of Edina, MN, passed away peacefully at home on July 4, 2015. He was born on a farm in South Dakota in 1920. He attended college in Sacramento, CA earning an Associate of Arts degree. Returning to South Dakota in 1940, he attended Northern State University in Aberdeen, SD where he earned a teaching certificate.
He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942 and was assigned to Gustavus Adolphus where he earned a B.S. degree. Following boot camp at Paris Island, SC he was transferred to Camp Lejeune, NC for advanced training and then to Quantico, VA for officer’s training, and commissioned a 2nd Lt. After further training at Camp Pendleton, CA he was assigned to amphibious attack vessel APA-221 Oneida for 14 months, all spent in various landings in the South Pacific theater, including the invasion of Okinawa. He was discharged as a Captain in 1946.
He had a deep love of music. Through both his college and post-war years, Jim was a performing musician in various touring dance bands. Beginning in 1946 he spent seven years as a principal and band teacher in McLaughlin, SD. Starting in 1953 he taught in the Minneapolis Public Schools for 34 years until his retirement. Most of those years were spent at Roosevelt H.S. teaching social studies and as a work coordinator. He also taught at Lincoln Jr. High, South and Henry high schools.
He was actively involved in professional organizations. He was President of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, VP of the Minnesota Federation of Teachers and VP of the American Federation of Teachers – AFL/CIO. He was one of the leaders of the 1970 teachers’ strike that led to the passage of the Public Employees Labor Relation Act of 1971 which provided collective bargaining rights for all public employees in Minnesota.
From 1973 to 1988 he was an elected trustee of the Minneapolis Teachers Retirement Fund. After retirement he was President of the Minneapolis Retired Teachers Organization.
Always interested in furthering his education, during his teaching years he spent summers studying at several institutions. He earned a Masters of Education at the University of Colorado. He also studied at the Universities of Minnesota, Wisconsin (Madison), Connecticut, Washington (St. Louis), Hawaii (on an East-West Center grant), Singapore (on a Fullbright Scholarship), and at the College of St. Catherine.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Andrew and Ida; four sisters and one brother. He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Nancy; son, John Heller (Laura); stepchildren, Rick Dahlen (Holly), Ron Dahlen (Jamie) and Cynthia Rasmussen (Peter); 12 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
A celebration of Jim’s life will be held on Wednesday, July 15 at St. Edward’s Catholic Church, 9401 Nesbitt Ave S., Bloomington, MN. Mass at 11:00 a.m. with visitation one hour prior. Memorials to Sharing & Caring Hands or charity of your choice. Cremation Society of MN (952-924-4100).
Published Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN, July 12, 2015