HUNTINGTON, New York, May 21
BY: Andrew Wroblewski
From sailing on the open seas and playing the trombone to serving in the United States Navy and directing projects for NASA, John “Jack” Burroughs Heaviside made every single day of his life an adventure.
Heaviside, a longtime resident of Huntington, died May 15. He was 84.
“He was a creative thinker, extraordinarily intelligent and very energetic,” his widow, Katherine Heaviside, said. “He was just curious about life and made every day an adventure.”
Jack Heaviside was born on Jan. 19, 1931, the only child of the late Henry and Anne Heaviside. During his childhood, the family lived in Brooklyn and Queens as his father worked as an attorney during the depression.
From there, Heaviside found an interest in music – he was inspired by the “Big Band Era” – and learned the trombone while attending the Juilliard School in New York City.
Inspired as a child by World War II, however, he dropped out of school and put the trombone in the closet to join the United States Navy. He served during the Korean conflict on a Landing Ship Tank (LST) as an electronics technician – a position which, he came to realize, was his calling.
Once he left the Navy, Heaviside continued his work as a civilian electronics technician and met his future wife, Katherine. The couple married on Feb. 27, 1965 and recently celebrated their 50th anniversary.
Upon visiting a friend on Long Island who invited the couple onto a sail boat, the two fell in love with sailing and decided they wanted to live near the water. They moved to Huntington 49 years ago, and Heaviside took up sailing as one of his several hobbies.
At home, he and Katherine started a family. Heaviside was the father of Linda and Douglas – his children from a prior marriage – and then John B. III, Paul and Laurel.
“My father encouraged us to pursue our interests; he led by example,” his daughter, Laurel, said.
His son, Paul, added: “He’ll be remembered for his honesty.”
During the Long Island boom of the 1960s and ’70s, Heaviside began his career in engineering. He worked for North Atlantic Industries and eventually climbed to become a vice president. As the world shifted from analog to digital, he specialized in analog-synchro conversion.
Embracing that specialty, he directed small projects for NASA, playing a part in the space missions of the time.
Heaviside also acquired several patents along his career and eventually designed and built the first nautical electronics compass: the HelmsMate. With that, he became president of North Atlantic’s HelmsMate division, which built and marketed the project to large sailboats and motor yachts.
Around this time, he would also return to his love for music. In the ’60s, he became a student of a teacher who was a professional with the Metropolitan Opera orchestra. He also joined several regional orchestras, started a Dixieland band, played with the Senior Pops Orchestra and treated himself to the special purchase of the dream trombone of his youth: a Conn 88H.
On top of everything, he was also a vice president for Epoch 5 Public Relations in Huntington; was a runner that competed in several marathons and races; and played in over 16,000 online chess matches with players from around the world.
Along with his wife and children, Heaviside is survived by his children-in-law, Gregg Koval and Kathryn; and his grandchildren, Michelle, Shaina, Sean, Alexander, Peter, Jack and George.
Arrangements will be made by Nolan & Taylor-Howe Funeral Home in Northport on May 24 from 2-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.
Memorial contributions in his name can be made to the Senior Pops Orchestra or the Family Service League.
Originally published: Long Islander News: The Long Islander
(Thursday, May 21, 2015; A29)